Familiar ground: Albemarle picks Foley for top exec

news-tom-foleyTom Foley was a shoo-in for new county executive, according to the Board of Supervisors.

Quite often, Charlottesville launches national searches for candidates to fill the top executive jobs. Think Scottie Griffin as Charlottesville's short-lived school superintendent, and even now there's a national search for someone to follow Gary O'Connell as city manager.

Albemarle tends to promote from within, and that's what happened when longtime chief exec Bob Tucker said he'll retire December 31. After allowing a few weeks for accolades for a well-regarded CEO, the Board of Supervisors announced September 8 that assistant county executive Tom Foley will step into the job January 1.

Board members have long had their eyes on Foley, 48, who's held the number-two job for 11 years. They "have complete confidence in his skills and abilities" to serve as county executive, according to a release.

What Foley won't be doing on January 1: Taking over Tucker's parking spot–- because there isn't a reserved space at the County Office Building. "He set the example of parking down there with everyone else and walking up," says Foley. "I'll continue that."

And working at the side of Tucker, Foley says he's learned a few things. "Bob is so good with staff on a personal level, and in building camaraderie," he says. And in building a family atmosphere in county government, "You get a lot more from people," says Foley.

The new county CEO is keenly aware more budget constraints lie ahead for next year, but says he's put together budgets before, including eight when he served as county administrator in Caroline County.

And he was encouraged to stick around by both Tucker and the BOS as part of its succession planning. "I had opportunities to do other things," he says.

He gets the job and the board's ringing endorsement: "In the Board’s opinion, the best test of what a person can do is what they have done, and Mr. Foley’s long tenure with the County has provided an opportunity to assess his actual performance that is not possible with other potential candidates."

Next up: Candidates vie for the city manager seat, including acting city manager Maurice Jones.