City Manager Steve Carpenter can retire in peace.

Harker Heights City Council members hired his successor, David Mitchell, Tuesday.

After a recommendation from Carpenter and several closed-session workshop meetings, the council unanimously voted Tuesday to hire Mitchell following a 1½-hour interview.

Mitchell, 41, is no stranger to Harker Heights. He served the city in a number of capacities from 2004 to 2009, including director of planning and development and assistant to Carpenter.

Mitchell will take over the reins Jan. 2 with an annual salary of $120,000.

Carpenter, 66, announced his retirement and Sept. 9, giving his 90-day notice.

After 40 years of working in municipal government, including the Heights city manager’s job since 1994, Carpenter will step down at the end of December.

“The city is getting a young, super bright, potential star city manager,” Carpenter said about his successor. “He is at a point in his career where he is getting into his prime. He is young, but experienced. We are very lucky to get someone of that caliber who wants to come here and hopefully stay for a while.”

Earlier this month Mayor Mike Aycock said the council was not in a “big hurry to find someone” and they were going about the search “in a slow and methodical way” to ensure they picked “the right person for the job.”

“When he worked for the city he did a lot of great things and he never really left our radar,” Aycock said. “He gained a lot of experience working in Hutto, and even though he is young, he is at the prime of his career and he will bring good energy and young blood into the city.”

Mitchell was the only applicant interviewed by the city, said Patty Brunson, assistant city manager.

After he left Heights in 2009, Mitchell went to work with the city of Hutto and is currently serving as Hutto’s city manager, a position he has held since April 2012.

Mitchell has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to take the city and improve on what’s been done and make it better,” Carpenter said. “He knows a lot about the culture and the organization and we are very fortunate to have him back in Harker Heights.”

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

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