VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Patrick Duhaney was surprised to learn he'll be the first black city manager for the City of Virginia Beach, and says that adds to the pressure of the new job.
"Extra pressure? Yeah, extra pressure to make sure that I do the job with integrity and honesty, set a path and trailblaze a path for those who may follow in my shoes," he said during a virtual interview with reporters on Wednesday.
The 37-year old Army veteran has been in the same role in Cincinnati for the past two years. He'll be paid $270,000 per year during his two year contract.
He takes over during a global pandemic and just a year after the mass shooting at the Municipal Center.
"That mass shooting - that tragic mass shooting - that happened last year, May 31, resonated with the entire country. Anyone who was in local government management - you started to wonder how you would react and what you would do if that happened in your city," he said.
Duhaney will face a big early task when he takes over: hiring a new police chief. He plans to hire one that fits in the times.
"We have to evaluate our police departments. We have to evaluate our policing procedures to ensure that we're doing it in a way that the community supports and is on board in terms of how we police them," he said.
He'll also be at the helm of a city still very vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding. He said he has to learn more about the specific issues here, but has faced similar challenges in Cincinnati.
"It's difficult. There is not an easy fix for that. It costs a lot of money, but how do you stretch it out and fund it in a way that keeps the city competitive and affordable for its residents?" he said.
While the city has faced accusations of cozying up to developers in the past, Duhaney promises to be transparent and stay above board. "I will put enough layers and buffers in place to ensure that every dealing that I have will be seen as transparent to the utmost extent possible."
He starts July 20.