Commissioners praise outgoing county manager's leadership
Special to SVLfreenews.com
Iredell County commissioners heaped praise on outgoing County Manager Ron Smith after the county's top executive announced last week that he was leaving for a position with the Centralina Council of Governments.
CCOG selected Smith to be its next executive director. His last day as county manager will be Jan. 5.
Iredell commissioners, in a news release, remarked on Smith's service to the county:
• Chairman James Mallory: “It is not surprising that when CCOG evaluated potential executive directors that Ron Smith would be at the top of their list. Ron understands all the challenges that local governments deal with to deliver services for our citizens effectively and efficiently in a resource-constrained environment while simultaneously working with other stakeholders to achieve economic growth. Ron's ability to achieve these effects for Iredell County has been remarkable. The Board of Commissioners, our county employees and our citizens will miss his day-to-day presence, but his legacy will continue as the strong leadership teams that he has fostered will continue to move forward on the many strategic initiatives that he has so ably championed."
• Commissioner Thomas Bowles: “Ron has served Iredell County well. He is intelligent, personable, and a great leader. I have worked with him some 20 years. I have always found him to be fair and just. Proud of him. CCOG is getting a top-notch Executive Director."
• Commissioner Gene Houpe: “This is a sad and happy time. As a friend, I am very happy that Ron has found a position that will make him happy. As a citizen of the region, I am happy for the leadership that the CCOG has gained. I look forward to working with Ron as Iredell County’s CCOG representative. As an Iredell County resident and taxpayer, I am sad that we are losing a manager of his caliber.”
• Commissioner Marvin Norman: “Ron has been very valuable to Iredell County over his career. He has led our organization to accomplish great things. I wish him the best of luck."
• Commissioner Jeff McNeely: “I have worked with Ron since 1999 in one capacity or another. During that time, he has proven to be a great leader and good man. It is bittersweet losing him to the CCOG. I am happy for him as a friend. He will be very difficult to replace."
Smith has served as County Manager since 2011. The South Florida native moved to Hickory just before high school and graduated from UNC Charlotte with a B.S. in Geography. He began his career as a planner in Whiteville, N.C., worked at Benchmark CMR Services as a planning consultant, and at Iredell County as a planner, Director of Planning and Development, Assistant County Manager and County Manager.
As Iredell County Planning Director, Smith spearheaded efforts to get ahead of the county’s rapid growth with the 2030 Horizon Plan and Unified Land Development Code. That work won Iredell County the N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2010 and 2011 Marvin Collins Planning Awards.
In his six years as Iredell County Manager, Smith’s work has included assisting the Board of Commissioners with initiatives including:
• Aligning two economic development corporations into one organization and hiring of one executive director;
• The development of a Specialty Services Division of EMS for convalescent transport;
• Building the county’s fund balance to a level that allowed for the debt-free construction of a $26 million detention center; and,
• Achieving the county’s first AAA bond rating.
The CCOG Executive Board unanimously approved Smith’s hiring at its meeting Wednesday night. His selection was the culmination of a five-month nationwide search.
“Ron Smith brings exceptional skills and the experience required to keep us on course for our rapidly growing region,” said CCOG Board Chairwoman and Charlotte City Council Member Patsy Kinsey. “Our national recruitment identified high-quality candidates from across the country. We were fortunate to find the best fit for Centralina right in our neighborhood.”