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Meet the City Manager

By Miriam Landru

More than 100 applicants from across the United States applied for the influential job of Fayetteville's city manager. A man who was serving as Durham’s deputy city manager was the best fit.

His name is Ted Voorhees.

Voorhees was appointed by the City Council to be our new city manager one year ago. He has 25 years experience working for cities in Virginia and North Carolina. Our city is much like those across North Carolina as the norm is to have a “council/manager” form of government. The city council is a policy-making body and the city manager is expected and required to carry out all council business.

Our new city manager has always been interested in government, politics and making things work well. "My father was a career Army officer and he had a ready tongue about Congress, which sparked an interested for me to learn how things can be better," confided Voorhees. In fact, his father was stationed here at Fort Bragg as a platoon leader, before he was born.

After a carefree beginning to high school in Hawaii, Voorhees’ family moved to Fairfax County, Virginia.  There he was selected to be a “student ambassador” for the county school board with “advisory voting” status. It was and still is among the largest school districts in the country. He learned how a board operates and that set the foundation for his coming successes.

His higher education was gained at American University in Washington D.C. graduating with a Bachelor’s in Political Science accompanied by a minor in Public Administration. From there, he attended graduate school at Virginia’s George Mason University earning a Master’s in Public Administration. Voorhees’ first job after his collegiate education was with the Department of the Army in a research position. "I felt after that experience I was more interested in local government," he explained. Going in a different direction, he worked for the Fairfax County Board and takes pride in helping build a few metro stations and overseeing several neighborhood redevelopment projects among other achievements. After gaining more city management experience, Voorhees was the Town Manager for the small northern Virginia town of Bowling Green.

In 1995, he made his way to the Tar Heel state becoming the city manager for King, North Carolina till 2000. While in the Piedmont-Triad area, he oversaw a downtown revitalization project, built the public works center and added new services. Voorhees found himself in our popular coastal beach town of Wilmington from 2000 to 2002 as the assistant city manager. “I was the project manager for the Wilmington Riverwalk. I saw it through till the end, they were driving the piles to begin construction on my very last day!” Voorhees joked.

Durham, home of Duke University, is where Voorhees spent 2002 to 2012 as deputy city manager of operations. "I helped the 9-11 center become one of the top centers in the country, got the fire department accredited, police department reaccredited and implemented curbside recycling among other projects," he said proudly.

Our city has doubled in size over the past 15 years, to over 200,000 people. Voorhees said, “I am going to take Fayetteville to the level that a city of our size needs to operate in. We are the sixth largest city in North Carolina and we need to operate at that level.” Voorhees also noted that our school system continues to improve and shows higher scores than Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Managing over 1,400 city employees, Voorhees displays the confidence and expertise about city management needed to compete with the larger cities in our state. He hinted at future revitalization projects targeting our streets and boulevards. “People like to come down to Hay Street because it’s a nice place to be. Now, it didn’t used to be, but as a community we changed that!” He continued, “We can do the same thing in some of our other parts of town. I know we did it in Durham.”

While not living and breathing his work, Voorhees enjoys spending time with his wife Michele and four boys, ages 10-17. "My kids have really embraced their schools and activities here, but for me it has mostly been about the professional challenge," he said. Voorhees also enjoys playing golf and going to the beach (Nags Head and Wrightsville are favorites). He also partakes in casual lunches at downtown favorite Marquis Market when he can squeeze in an hour! Naturally, he also is keen on keeping up with public affairs.

Voorhees offers this perspective and hope for Fayetteville, "Begin with the end in mind and with a vision about a place we want to grow up… and stay in."