Durham City Attorney Patrick Baker is leaving for a job in Charlotte.
Baker handed out a memo announcing his resignation before Monday night’s City Council meeting, saying he would step down from his role on March 8. The city of Charlotte announced Monday that Baker would start as city attorney there the same month.
“I will have much more to say about my tenure with this organization and community as we get closer to my departure date,” he wrote in the memo, addressed to city administration. The resignation was the topic of a closed session held before the council meeting.
In brief remarks during the meeting, Baker said he “will be using the next 60 days to ensure an absolutely seamless transition.”
Baker has worked for the city of Durham for more than two decades, first as an assistant city attorney and then as interim city manager. He was made full-time city manager in 2005 and held that position until 2008, when he resigned – after publicly lamenting his poor work-life balance – and moved into his current role as city attorney.
As city attorney, Baker advises the City Council and city staff and manages a team of nine attorneys. He is also president-elect of both the North Carolina Association of Municipal Attorneys and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
In the memo, Baker says serving Durham officials and residents “has been the honor of a lifetime” and that he and his family “cannot express enough our appreciation for all of the opportunities afforded to us in this amazing community.”
The move means a raise for Baker. As of October, he earned $223,982. According to the city of Charlotte, his new salary will be $254,000.
Baker said he is friends with Charlotte’s retiring city attorney, who brought up the position to him. He declined “seven or eight times” and said, until recently, he didn’t expect to leave the city of Durham until he retired himself.
“I’ve loved this place,” he said.
But, ultimately, Baker told reporters after Monday’s meeting, he decided he wanted to take on another challenge in his career and that Charlotte is the only jurisdiction he would have considered a professional step up from working for Durham because of its size. With his kids at college, the timing was right for a change, he said.
While itit a larger city with a larger legal team to manage, Baker says Charlotte is dealing with a lot of
Mayor Steve Schewel said Baker has served with “incredible distinction” and that very few people have held both city attorney and manager positions.
“While we recognize this as a tremendous loss for Durham we also want to wish you speed in your new job … We will miss you terribly,” Schewel said.
CharlotteMayor Vi Lyles said in a statement Baker brings a “diverse skillset,” “effective counsel” and a “collaborative approach to leadership.”
“I’m honored and humbled to begin this new journey,” Baker said in Charlotte’s statement. “I’d like to thank the City Council for their confidence in my abilities, and I look forward to calling Charlotte home.”
Update: Senior Assistant City Attorney Kim Rehberg will be interim city attorney following Baker’s departure.