County manager stepping down in January to take new position
BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell County Manager Ron Smith is resigning his position, effective Jan. 5, 2018, to take a job as executive director of Centralina Council of Governments.
Smith, 46, who has worked as Iredell County’s top executive for six and a half years, informed county commissioners of his decision by telephone on Thursday afternoon.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for me and my skill sets. It certainly is bittersweet leaving the county,” Smith said. “It’s definitely amicable with the board and we (Iredell County) are in a good standpoint as far as an organization standpoint.”
“There’s not going to be a gaping hole,” he added. “There’s good staff in place and they will certainly hold the reins.”
Iredell County Commission Chairman James Mallory said Smith’s decision to leave was understandable. “A unique opportunity arose, one that doesn’t come along a lot,” Mallory added.
“I’m excited for Ron, personally and professionally, for the opportunity he’s going to have … at a regional level,” Mallory said. “A county manager has no place to go in the county, except up.”
Smith’s new job will be in Charlotte, but he plans to continue living in Iredell County.
The move is not about money, Smith said. He is eager for the new challenge — one that he admits he didn’t pursue immediately.
Centralina Council of Governments serves nine counties, including Iredell, and 74 municipalities, meaning Smith will continue working with local government leaders.
“One reason the job appealed to me is the COGG is a regional entity, and includes Iredell County. We will be able to do project work for Iredell County or Statesville and I will keep a work connection to my home county,” Smith said.
Smith’s first job out of college was in eastern North Carolina. In 1996, Smith recalls, jumping on the chance to move to Iredell County to work and be closer to his family. He has worked as “a planner of all ranks” and later advancing to planning director, then assistant county manager and county manager.
“I’ve grown up professionally in Iredell County," said Smith, a graduate of University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Deputy County Manager Beth Jones and Assistant County Manager Susan Robertson will carry out some of the functions that Smith performed until his successor is in place.
The board will meet next Tuesday and begin discussing how to fill the county manager position. Mallory said that there’s no timeline and the board will not rush the process as they are seeking the best applicant for the job.
If Smith had resigned two years ago, the board would be scrambling, Mallory said.
However, he’s built a solid team that can carry out the functions as the county moves forward. “It’s a testament to his leadership abilities,” he said.