Winston-Salem’s new city manager William Patrick Pate is taking the oath of office at tonight’s city council meeting, according to city documents. Pate was selected by city councilmembers on July 14 in a 5-3 vote and his contract was approved on August 7. He’s been wrapping up his position as the city manager of Manassas, Va. where he’s served as city manager for the last decade.

That’s why Assistant City Manager Patrice Toney has been serving as interim city manager since August. Toney was one of the top contenders for the city manager position along with Pate. 

Pate’s selection was fraught with backlash after he was selected over Toney, a favorite among the community that packed city hall in July. Toney has worked with the city since 2016 and has more than 25 years of local government experience between her work at the Winston-Salem Police Department, Forsyth County and the city. Pate will be coming home to the Triad after working for the city of Winston-Salem between 1985-87 and more than 25 years of work experience in High Point and Greensboro.

The Winston-Salem NAACP and Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity pushed back against Pate’s nomination, and city leaders such as Councilmember Barbara Hanes Burke vouched for Toney over Pate. Along with Burke, Councilmembers Annette Scippio and James Taylor, Jr. cast the dissenting votes in July and August.

Burke made the case in July that Toney has experience within the city and would be able to “hit the ground running tomorrow doing the work.”

“She won’t need to be brought up to speed,” Burke said.

In mid-August, leaders from the NAACP and Ministers’ Conference were seemingly appeased following a meeting with Mayor Allen Joines. President of the Ministers’ Conference Dr. Keith Vereen said the meeting was “very fruitful” and that their “concerns were met.”

“Our ultimate goal was to find a common ground where we could continue to work with our city officials, our elected officials, in moving Winston-Salem forward as we have in the past,” he said.

Still, community activists such as Arnita Miles felt that the process was “flawed.” Pate “did not have the opportunity to speak to the community,” Miles told Triad City Beat, adding that when the city selected its new police chief in January, candidates had the opportunity to “speak to the people” via public forum.

In an August interview with Triad City Beat, Pate said he believed the council did their “due diligence” during the hiring process, which he called ”very intense” and “thorough.”

Pate was “born and raised” in North Carolina, he said, noting that he spent the bulk of his career in the Triad area. 

“I have always loved that area of North Carolina and Winston-Salem in particular,” Pate said, adding that he’s “very much looking forward” to coming back to the city and “returning to be an active part of the community.”

This evening, the decisions made over the last several months will finally come to fruition as the torch is passed to Pate. This transfer of power is historic, coming more than 17 years after previous City Manager Lee Garrity took the seat. Garrity retired in June, leaving former Assistant City Manager Johnnie Taylor to serve as the interim city manager. Taylor left the city in August to take a job as city manager in Lexington, N.C.
Watch tonight’s city council meeting here at 6 p.m.

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