KFP: Tony Sears is new Kinston city manager

Janet S. Carter / The Free Press

by David Anderson

Although many in the community wanted Kinston officials to look close to home when selecting a new city manager, local leaders looked to a small city more than 150 miles to the west to find their man.

Tony Sears, 34, who is currently serving as Randleman’s city manager, was tapped as Kinston’s newest city manager Monday.

The members of the City Council, after having met with Sears several times, voted unanimously to approve his contract.

“Congratulations, Mr. Sears,” said Mayor B.J. Murphy after the vote was taken.

Sears is scheduled to start work Nov. 2.

In brief remarks before the council Monday, the new city manager said he was looking forward to coming to Kinston.

“Obviously Kinston has some issues, and I look forward to sorting those out and helping the city move forward,” he said.

Before coming to Kinston, Sears spent nearly seven years as city manager of the town of Randleman.

The town of about 3,600 people is most famous for being the hometown of NASCAR driver Richard Petty. It is nestled in Randolph County, part of the greater Greensboro area.

Sears is married with two sons, ages 9 and 7. Monday was his youngest son’s birthday.

He attended high school in the Wake County town of Apex, and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a concentration in town, city and county government.

He also minored in community planning and history. Sears earned his Master’s of Public Administration from ASU in 2002.

In addition to serving as Randleman’s city manager, Sears interned with the town of Troy in 2000 and Apex in 2001. He was town manager for Kenly in 2002 and 2003.

Sears will take over the reins from Interim City Manager Bill Ellis, who has been at City Hall since July 1. Ellis will return to his post as director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Ellis stepped in as interim manager after former City Manager Scott Stevens announced this past spring that he would serve as Goldsboro’s city manager.

Stevens had spent four years as city manager and had worked for the City of Kinston since the late 1990s.

 “I’m just happy to be here, and I just can’t wait for 30 days to be up,” Sears said.


David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or danderson@freedomenc.com.



Name: Tony Sears

Occupation: New Kinston city manager

Education: B.S., political science, Appalachian State University, 2000; Master’s in Public Administration, ASU, 2002

Family: Wife Kelly, sons Trevor, 9 and Tyler, 7