The Ashe County Board of Commissioners, who last week appointed themselves to a search committee for a new county manager, this week officially posted the position, beginning the process of finding Ashe’s next chief public administrator.
Responsible for overall operations of the county, its 300 employees and a $40 million budget, the county manager “will have a thorough understanding of the budget function…be experienced in management of personnel, and will have knowledge of…public administration and county government,” according to the job posting.
“Preferred qualifications include: graduate degree in public administration or its equivalent; five years experience in county government, including experience in…economic development; and a thorough understanding of N.C. State law governing county administration,” the posting read.
Board Chairman Larry Rhodes said Tuesday, “My goal is that the job be posted, and we’re to go through (the applications) after 45 days. I’ve not been told any different.”
“We will choose from the most qualified,” said Commissioner Williams Sands Wednesday. “I hope we get some people that have the qualifications I’m looking for: we need somebody who can manage.”
The board voted to dismiss former County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell Aug. 19 in a 3-2 decision, with Rhodes and Sands dissenting.
Mitchell was the second manager removed by the board in two years — Dan McMillan was voted out 4-1 in July 2011 — and Rhodes is concerned qualified people might hesitate to apply for or accept appointment as Ashe County Manager.
“It would send up a red flag for me,” Rhodes said.
“If I were interviewing (for the position), it would definitely weigh into my decision. I’d ask for a contract,” he said.
Jordan a prime candidate?
Sands said Wednesday, “All the commissioners got an email asking that we consider him (Rep. Jonathon Jordan) as interim (manager).” Sands said the email came from another commissioner, but did not identify who sent the email.
Responding to prevalent rumors in the community that Jordan has been preselected as county manager by commissioners Judy Poe, Gerald Price and Gary Roark, who voted to remove Mitchell, Rhodes said, “There has been no discussion of it in executive session.”
“I have not heard his name in any discussion,” Sands said of Jordan. “I have heard those rumors (about) the three that terminated (Mitchell).”
Jordan on Wednesday responded to rumors of his preselection for county manager saying, “That’s completely false.”
No discussion has taken place between any of the commissioners and himself regarding his possible appointment as interim manager or county manager, he said.
Asked if he plans to apply for the position, Jordan said, “I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”
According to Don Wright, General Counsel for the N.C. Board of Elections, no law would prevent Jordan being appointed county manager while holding a seat in the General Assembly.
“What generally is disallowed is holding two elected offices,” Wright said.
But, he said, simultaneously serving as a state legislator and a county manager could give way to conflict of interest.
Requests for comment from commissioners Poe and Roark were unanswered by press time.