Mecklenburg Co. leaders to meet as search continues for hiring of new county manager

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For the first time since County Manager Harry Jones was fired last spring, the county is getting a look at a list of potential replacements, but even that list is causing dissension among board members.

The firing of Harry Jones as county manager was controversial enough five months ago, and now there is a new controversy building over finding his replacement.

A four-member search committee has a list of possible candidates, but the question is – who is allowed to know who they are?

On Monday afternoon, the County Commission wrestled with a tricky problem: how to hire a new county manager whole keeping the names of those applying confidential for now.

Commission Chair Pat Cotham is on the Search Committee, along with Bill James, Vilma Leake and Karen Bently.

Here is where things have gotten controversial:

The search firm that the county is working with has only gotten permission from those applying to show their resumes to the four committee members.

Some other commissioners do not like that and at a specially called meeting on Monday afternoon lashed out, saying that all commissioners should have access to all information about all potential candidates.

Moments later, commissioner Trevor Fuller stormed out of the room, angry that the full board had voted to keep information about applicants for committee members' eyes only, until a list of finalists is recommended down the road.

Al Nedrich, a corporate headhunter for 25 years, said confidentially is critical in any executive search.

"Every individual wants to understand what their market value is, but they want to do that with some level of confidentiality and kind of keep it below radar," he said.

Later Monday afternoon, the commissioners' search committee got its first look at what Eyewitness News was told is a list of 16 candidates for county manager. They are not saying who is on it at this time.