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Those of us who serve as city and county managers are very grateful to those who have “paved the way” for us. I am particularly proud of my county for honoring the work of Dallas Walton Newsom, our first county manager. Mr. Newsom was appointed Durham county manager in August 1930—80 years ago last month. At the time of his appointment, Durham County was one of only two counties in the country with a county-manager form of government.
Mr. Newsom took office during the Great Depression. While I have served as county manager during the Great Recession, I do not think our situation today compares with the economic and financial conditions Mr. Newsom found when he took office. However, he quickly established himself and won national acclaim for Durham County, evidenced by this excerpt from Commerce and Industry, a national business magazine:
“The county manager form of government was adopted by Durham County in August 1930 – a time when the county was in very serious financial difficulties. Since then County Manager D. W. Newsom and the Board have entrenched Durham the strongest county in the state, as well as one of the most efficient and economical in the nation.”
Mr. Newsom was also appointed as one of the four members and as treasurer of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, which was created to work out plans for the construction of an airport midway between the two cities. He was on hand in 1943 to welcome the landing of the airport’s first plane, operated by Eastern Airlines.
D. W. Newsom was a leader and a visionary who helped shaped the Durham County that we enjoy today. I am grateful and honored to hold the office he once held and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Michael M. Ruffin