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County introduces candidate for new chief of staff
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Gregory Pridgeon

The Board of Commissioners introduced chief of staff finalist Greg Pridgeon at the Jan. 4 Monday evening work session.

Pridgeon was most recently the chief of staff for the city of Atlanta under Mayor Shirley Franklin. He was also a policy analyst for the Atlanta City Council, worked under three different mayoral administrations, was appointed to finish the District 1 Atlanta city council term in 1993, and was a liason to Rockdale County when he was director of Government Relations for the 1996 Olympic games.

BOC Chairman Richard Oden said the search for the Chief of Staff took about 120 days and had cast "the net as wide as we possibly can to find the best candidate we possibly can."

HR director Jeff Pogue said the county received 66 applications for Chief of Staff, with no internal candidates. He reviewed them and narrowed the list down to 10, at Oden's request. The Chairman and Pogue then narrowed that list down to five, and after follow up, the list was narrowed down to three. "The entire Board did speak with those individuals and we settled on Mr. Pridgeon," said Pogue.

The annual salary offered for the chief of staff position was $90,000. As Atlanta's chief of staff, Pridgeon reportedly received a salary of $166,361, according to a 2007 Atlanta Journal Constitution article.

In a press release, Oden said, "Rockdale is becoming and will become a regional leader in governance as we build a knowledgeable and professional customer-focused agency of excellence... Mr. Pridgeon is another example of building a quality team to help lead us into the future.

"It's one thing to have a good coach. It is everything to have a great quarterback," said Commissioner Oz Nesbitt in a released statement. "The role and position of the chief of staff is vital to the overall organization and to the effectiveness of day-to-day operations."

"I look forward to working with Greg Pridgeon because of his vast amount of experience in public service," said Commissioner JaNice Van Ness. "Our similar background in political science and public service makes it an exciting opportunity for the residents and employees of Rockdale County."

Pridgeon spoke briefly at the work session. "I'm deeply honored and humbled by the possibly of joining this fine county as your chief of staff," he said. "I am honored that Chairman Oden and the HR Director had looked through my credentials - so has Commissioner Van Ness, so has Commissioner Nesbitt - and they think I have the capacity to be of assistance to the county."

"I know a lot, but I don't know everything. What I could do is bring my experience to give options and provide leadership where appropriate to the staff and those who see my information as being positive for the county."

The position had previously been filled by R.J. Hadley, who left in October to pursue the Democratic ticket for Senate. Interim chief of staff Holly Bowie, who was also legal affairs manager, left for a private sector job in November.

Pridgeon graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a Bachelor's degree in political science and studied urban planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). He and his wife of 31 years live in the Grant Park neighborhood in Atlanta and have three adult children and a daughter-in-law.

The board will vote on appointing Pridgeon at a called meeting tentatively scheduled for Jan. 19 at 8:30 a.m.

In other BOC business:

In addition to Chief of Staff, at least two administrative leadership positions and one new position remain unfilled - director of Public Affairs and Media Relations, director of the General Services and Engineering department and the purchasing and procurement officer.

The county received 115 applications, including one internal application, for the Public Affairs director position, which was posted at the end of November and closed at the end of December, according to HR director Jeff Pogue. The GS and E director and purchasing officer are open for applications until filled and about 60 applications have been received for each so far, said Pogue.

Pogue also discussed changing the title of the existing "development review analyst planning and zoning" to "development and business relations manager."

The job description includes being a "single point of contact to advocate and expedite and assist perspective and existing businesses with their requests" in the GSE department.

"This here cleans it up," pointed out Nesbitt. "This makes it a lot more business friendly."

Van Ness said this would be a way to help business looking to move to Rockdale County or for existing businesses to expand. "I think this is one way to simplify the process and make it easier to do business in Rockdale County," said Van Ness.