Of the 29 complete applications Newton County has received for its county manager position, five candidates are moving on to the next stage of the process.
Interviews will be held on Friday, Nov. 20, and Monday, Nov. 23, with each candidate meeting with a selection committee on one of those two days.
The committee members are Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Ellis, District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims, Human Resources Director Keyra Fray, and Finance Director Michelle Kelly.
Once the top three candidates have been selected, Georgia Open Records Law requires the county make their names public, unless a candidate gives notice they are withdrawing their application. The BOC has final say in the hiring of the county manager but cannot make the hiring decision for 14 days following the release of candidates’ names.
Interim County Manager Harry Owens, who stepped in to the position left vacant in May by Tom Garrett, will retire by the end of December.
“Certainly, I’m hopeful that once the interviews and recommendations are made and dependent on who the candidate is and whether they have to work a notice period, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to say [the new county manager] could start the first of January,” Owens said.
Ellis said, “The one thing I think is noteworthy is that the person selected county manager may be hired under one form of government and end up working under another.”
He was referring to a recent citizen’s committee that made recommendations on changing the county’s charter. The committee recommended transferring all operational duties from the county chair to the county manager, including roads and bridges, and transforming the elected chair’s role into serving as the “political face” of the county at local, regional, state and national levels.
The Board of Commissioners has discussed the recommendations at recent board meetings and work sessions, and has turned it over to the county attorney’s office to draft the appropriate legislation. The legislation must be approved by the state’s General Assembly before being enacted, and the law firm is expected to bring the draft back to the board by the first meeting in December.