Fort Worth City Council names Cooke lone city manager finalist

By Scott Nishimura

The Fort Worth City Council has narrowed its city manager search to David Cooke, a former North Carolina county manager, Mayor Betsy Price said Friday.

“The City Council has asked our consultant, Whitney Smith, to begin negotiations with the top candidate for the position of city manager for Fort Worth,” Price said in a statement. “That finalist is David Cooke.”

“Once that (negotiating) process is complete, final approval will come before council for a vote as soon as possible,” Price said.

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The council interviewed the two finalists – Cooke and Johnson County, Kan., deputy county manager Penny Postoak Ferguson – behind closed doors Thursday.

“This is a vital decision for our city as we continue to move forward and grow, and this nationwide search produced talented and capable professionals to fill this vital role,” Price said.

Cooke would replace Tom Higgins, who is retiring.

Cooke has been business development director for Mulkey Engineers and Consultants since February.

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He was Wake County manager between August 2000 and November 2013 and deputy county manager for four years beginning in 1996. Wake is the state’s 48th largest county at 966,000 population. The county has 3,600 employees and a $1.2 billion operating budget in 2014.

Cooke’s resume says he led 13 successful bond referenda since 2000 for schools, community colleges, libraries, and open space. He also helped recruit several major employers, including Fidelity Investments, to Wake County.

Cooke also worked for the city of Charlotte for more than 10 years.