Newton County’s switch to a county manager form of government in late 2011 was a messy, contentious affair that transferred much of the day-to-day authority and responsibility from the elected county chairman to an appointed county manager.
The move was supported by those who felt a change in leadership and direction was needed, while others saw only a political power play that subverted the public’s authority by placing power in a non-elected position without allowing the public to weigh in.
This paper felt at the time that more study and public input was needed.
County Manager John Middleton announced Tuesday that he would be retiring later this year, and the Board of Commissioners immediately and unanimously agreed to look at the county’s current leadership structure and study the pros and cons of multiple systems.
We’re glad to see the county taking a more measured approach the second time around.
We’ll say it again as we’ve said it before: We believe that a county manager system is probably the best system for Newton County, which has turned into a fairly large, diverse county. And we thank John Middleton for his many years of service to the county.
We just want to make sure the public is kept informed and has a chance to weigh in, and that officials have candid, open discussions about the path ahead.
And if the decision is made to keep both a full-time county manager and chairman, we hope it’s made clear to the public what each official will be responsible for handling and what value each provides to the county.