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Two finalists for Newton county manager make their cases for hiring
Newton County Historic Courthouse
The Historic Courthouse in Covington where the Newton County Board of Commissioners meets. - photo by File Photo

COVINGTON, Ga. — The race for Newton County’s county manager position is down to two, with one name that should be somewhat familiar to those who follow the county government scene. 

Washington, D.C,. Deputy Mayor Lucinda Babers and Henry County Human Resources Director Harold Cooper were named as the two finalists after the county Board of Commissioners met Monday afternoon in executive session. 

Babers and Cooper were confirmed after Commissioners Stan Edwards motioned and Demond Mason seconded for the confirmation. It was approved with a unanimous 4-0 vote. District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan was absent. 

By state law, the Board of Commissioners now must wait at least 14 calendar days before making a final decision on hiring one of the finalists, which means they must wait until at least April 10. 

Cooper, originally from Miami, Florida, has been a resident of Conyers for the last 13 years. He has 22 years of experience in the public sector with 12 of those years serving in various HR roles in work environments that range from government to independent school districts, according to the Henry County government website. 

Babers has worked as Washington’s deputy mayor for operations and infrastructure since March 2019 and has served in various management capacities with the D.C. government for 24 years. She also served in management positions at Amtrak and is an Air Force veteran.

She has ties to Georgia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech. Babers was one of two finalists for the interim county manager position in February 2022 but her counterpart, Jarvis Sims, was selected to fill the one-year interim term. 

Sims’ interim contract position ended March 6 and he left Newton County. He was recently hired as the new city manager of Greensboro in Greene County and his tenure will officially begin on May 1. 


In her cover letter accompanying her application for interim county manager this year, Babers said she has served as Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure (DMOI) in Washington, D.C., for almost four years.

“As an “out of the box” thinker and leader and current Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure (DMOI) in Washington, D.C., this is an exciting opportunity to continue making Newton County a great place to work, live and play while partnering and collaborating with its businesses and residents,” she wrote.

“In overseeing 3,372 employee positions, $651 million in operating funds, and $1.97 billion in capital funding, DMOI agencies consistently operate within budget while collecting over $500 million in revenue for the city. Therefore, my skills would also benefit Newton County’s outcomes which require financial expertise and business acumen.”

The resume she submitted with her application this year showed her experience has included:

• Washington, D.C., Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure (May 2019 – present). 

“Provide oversight and guidance to agencies related to motor vehicles, transportation, permitting/licensing, for hire vehicles, environment, public works and insurance, securities, and banking. Liaison for gas, electric and water utility companies. Oversight includes 3,372 employee positions, $651 million in operating funds, $1.97 billion in capital funding, and over $500 million in revenue.”

• Director and Deputy Director, Department of Motor Vehicles (July 2003 – May 2019)

• Amtrak, Washington, D.C., Senior Director, Operations and Project Manager, Service Standards, (April 1999-January 2002)

• Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, Washington, D.C., Associate Management Officer, Office of City Manager (April 1998-April 1999)

• City Government, Washington, D.C., Project Manager, Corrections and City Administrator (September 1994-September 1997)

• U.S. Air Force Captain, March Air Force Base, California, Department Manager, Industrial Engineering (October 1988-December 1992)

Her education and certifications include:

• Executive Leadership Program, The George Washington University, Center for Excellence in Public Leadership

• Project Management Certificate, Rutgers University, School of Business Executive Education

• Master of Science degree in Business, Management of Technology Concentration, Johns Hopkins University

• Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree, Georgia Institute of Technology.


Cooper said he has served as Human Resources director for Henry County government since 2019.

“This role (county manager) is one of, if not the, most influential leadership roles in county government. My proven dedication to optimizing organizational success through my acute knowledge of public sector operations, strategies and financial acumen will contribute immensely to the success of Newton County government.

“In addition to managing a personnel budget of ($167 million), I work in collaboration with the Financial Services department, overseeing the ($217 million) county budget.

“With the majority of my leadership experience in the government sector, I believe I am ready to take on the duties of a County Manager. 

“A servant leader, coupled with a strong network of professional and educational attributes, my vision for Newton County lies in bridging the workforce and the community.”

The resume he submitted with his application showed his experience has included:

• Director, Human Resources: Henry County Government, McDonough, GA (2019– present). 

“Provide overall direction and leadership in an HR capacity, to all departments, including constitutional offices. Establish clear systems of accountability, succession planning, and professional development to evaluate progress toward Henry County’s strategic plan. Spearhead government initiatives, specifically two Classification and Compensation analyses, and the implementation of the Employee Policies and Procedures Manual.”

His job also includes: “Manage totality of the grievance process, including investigations, appeals, and serves as the County Manager’s designee for adverse actions. In conjunction with the Director of Financial Services, oversees the implementation and dissemination of 77% ($167 million) of the county’s total budget which equates to personnel matters. Directed HR Staff in the management of employee benefits, classification and compensation, recruitment, and employee records.”

• Assistant Director, Human Resources: Henry County Government, McDonough, GA (2017-2019).

• Deputy Human Resources Director/Employee Relations Manager: Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (2011-2017).

• Special Agent in Charge: Georgia Department of Human Services (2010-2011)

• Employee Relations Officer: Atlanta Public Schools (2007-2009)

• Labor Relations Investigator: Miami-Dade County Public Schools (2005-2007)

• Child Protective Investigative Supervisor: Florida Department of Children and Families (1998-2005).

His education and certifications include:

• Saint Thomas University, Master of Science in Public Management, 2006.

• Morris Brown College, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, 1994.

• Justice Center of Atlanta: Advanced Mediation Certification/Basic Mediation Certification, 2015.

News Editor Tom Spigolon contributed to this report.