Mecklenburg County Harry Jones says he initially declined an opportunity to apply for a new county manager post in Alabama, but said he thinks the job represents a unique opportunity to transform the troubled county.
Jones was named on Monday one of three finalists for the manager job in Jefferson County, Ala., which includes the city of Birmingham. Read the news release by clicking here. State lawmakers ordered the county to hire a professional manager to help pull the county out of a fiscal crisis tied, in part, to a multi-billion-dollar sewer deal.
The Observer asked Jones, 61, what interests him about the Alabama position, particularly given the struggles Jefferson has faced in recent years.
In an e-mail, Jones wrote: "The search firm pursued me aggressively to become a candidate. Although, I declined initially, I decided after consultation with my family to submit an application. My family reminded me that I have a great deal to be proud of here in Mecklenburg County and that I have a very compelling story about organizational change to tell. The position in Jefferson County represents a unique opportunity, as the first county manager, to transform an organization on the brink of bankruptcy to a high performing, results-oriented, fiscally-disciplined entity. I am interested in interviewing them- more than being interviewed by them- on their vision for the future and their plans, thoughts, and commitment to create long-term sustainable change and their willingness to make the extremely tough decisions necessary help them out of this very deep fiscal hole they are in."
Jones has worked for Mecklenburg County government for two decades and has served as manager since 2000. -- APRIL BETHEA