by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Under a veil of secrecy Monday, Mecklenburg County Commissioners began face-to-face interviews with candidates who want to be the next county manager.
A four-member search committee met in a Balantyne corporate park, away from county offices, to interview the first two of those candidates.
Security guards ordered reporters to leave the property during the interviews.
County leaders said they want to protect the identities of those applying for the job until a list of finalists is determined.
Even other commissioners who aren't on the search committee are being kept in the dark.
Last May commissioners surprised many by firing longtime county manager Harry Jones.
The process to find a replacement has been plodding.
In August, commissioners hired a recruiting firm to compile a list of potential candidates.
The first of those applicants met search committee members Monday.
"We had some discussions and dialogue so we're very excited about the process," said commission chair Pat Cotham. "We were really pleased with the caliber of candidates we have and the diversity of candidates we have. It's a good start."
Interviews with other candidates will continue throughout the week.
The county has said it hopes to have a new county manager hired before budget discussions begin in the spring.
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