CEDAR POINT — Town officials announced Friday they have hired David Rief, an attorney and a former town planning director, permit officer and building inspector for Cape Carteret, as the new town administrator.
Effective Tuesday, Oct. 1, he will replace Chris Seaberg, who resigned in late June to take the job of town manager in Swansboro, an Onslow County town just across the White Oak River from Cedar Point.
Mr. Rief has been hired at a salary of $75,000 per year, and his appointment will be officially approved in an open meeting this month. Mr. Seaberg’s salary for this fiscal year was $72,000.
Mr. Rief, in a phone interview Friday, said he is excited about the job and looks forward to talking to Mr. Seaberg to get to know Cedar Point a bit better while he’s transitioning from his law practice. But, he added, he’s never truly lost touch with the town or the county.
He lost his home on Red Barn Road during Hurricane Florence last September, but is building a new house in the area. He’s been living in Trenton, in Jones County, and commuting to his job with Cauley Pridgen P.A., in Kinston. He is married with four daughters.
“I started going to law school when I was still working in Cape Carteret,” Mr. Rief said Friday. “But I’ve never lost my interest in local government.”
For example, he said, since earning his law degree and going to work as an attorney, he’s specialized in representing local governments.
When he learned of the Cedar Point job opportunity, he said he leapt at it, because of his interest in good local government, his desire to return to employment in the county and the ability it will give him to spend more time with his family.
He also said he’s continued to stay abreast of planning issues.
Cedar Point, he said, is thriving, and he was impressed by the commitment and ability of the town this year to buy 56 acres along the White Oak River for a park.
Planning experience for a new administrator had been a concern of Mayor Scott Hatsell since he learned of Mr. Seaberg’s resignation.
Mr. Seaberg worked as a local government planning consultant before he accepted the Cedar Point job, and that was one of his strengths, Mayor Hatsell said recently.
The mayor said Friday Mr. Rief will be a good fit in the town and impressed the mayor and commissioners when he interviewed for the job.
“He pretty much had everything we were looking for,” he said. “He has the right kind of experience and knows the area … We’re just tickled to death. We got lucky.
“He got good recommendations from people in Cape Carteret, and everybody liked him when we did the interview,” he concluded.
Commissioner John Nash agreed and said it was good the town was able to hire someone with roots in the community.
Mr. Seaberg said it’s bittersweet for him to leave Cedar Point after more than 14 years in the position, but he’s “thrilled” the town was able to get a successor with the background and abilities of Mr. Rief.
While commissioners hoped to bring on Mr. Seaberg’s successor in time to work with him for a short period, the outgoing administrator said as manager in a town that shares a border with Cedar Point, he’ll be available for consultation if needed.
The town received about 15 applications from potential candidates for the position.
Although Mayor Hatsell said last month there were some good resumes in the bunch, he said Friday Mr. Rief’s background and knowledge of the area shot his to the top.
Mr. Rief began his career at Cauley Pridgen as a clerk during the summers of 2012 and 2013. Upon graduation from Regent University School of Law in Virginia, he joined the firm as an associate in May of 2014.
According to his biography on the firm’s website, he has represented municipal clients in matters before state and federal agencies, as well as in district and superior court, the N.C. Court of Appeals and the N.C. Supreme Court.
“He has successfully represented clients, both municipal and individual, in contractual disputes and real estate litigation and routinely advises clients on land use issues such as planning, zoning, nuisance abatement and signage regulation as well as on quasi-judicial hearings,” the bio states.
Mr. Rief got his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Appalachian State University in Boone.
In addition to his law degree, he has a master’s degree in public administration, also from Regent University.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.