Polk begins search for permanent county manager

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, August 31, 2014

by Leah Justice
The Polk County Board of Commissioners has begun its search for a permanent county manager with candidates currently being interviewed.
The county received more than 20 applications for the position.
Commissioners met Aug. 18 and asked for advice on the search from David Nicholson, with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners (NCACC), who retired as Henderson County’s manager after working in Henderson County government for 30 years.
“This is going to be one of the most important decisions you make as a board,” Nicholson told commissioners.
Nicholson said Polk will have candidates who are very qualified and not as qualified, but commissioners will have to decide what they are looking for. He said it’s important to find out each candidate’s ability to work with commissioners, their ability to work with the community and someone who can work with the media.
Nicholson encouraged commissioners to get organized prior to interviews. He gave samples of 16 questions to ask the candidates.
He also encouraged commissioners to make the county look good.
“You are interviewing them but they are also interviewing you,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson said to let the candidates know who they are, give them a copy of the budget, the county’s organizational chart and copies of newly approved plans, such as the county’s new economic development policy and strategy.
Nicholson said once commissioners have gone through all the applications, they should narrow candidates down to between three and five.
Polk County has been without a permanent county manager since December 2012 after former county manager Ryan Whitson was called to active duty in New Jersey with the U.S. Army Reserves.
Commissioners appointed former information technology director Marche Pittman as the interim county manager in December 2012.
Whitson announced he was returning to the county manager position on March 10, 2014, but prior to his return, the county accepted his resignation in exchange for a $178,590 pay off. Whitson had been Polk County’s manager since 2007.
It is not known when commissioners will make the decision on a permanent county manager. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8.

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