The Town of North Wilkesboro narrowed the field of 34 applicants for the position of town manager to seven “semi-finalists.”
Applications were received from as far away as Washington state, Michigan, Florida, Kentucky and Puerto Rico, as well as South Carolina and Virginia.
Hank Perkins announced at the June town meeting that he was resigning after 10 years here to accept similar duties for the Town of Lewisville. Cecil Wood, who served as Wilkes County manager for nine years (1986-95) and eventually retired as town manager in Lewisville this past February, has served since Friday, July 6 as North Wilkesboro’s interim manager.
Commenting on the number and diversity of the applications, Wood said with a smile, “Everyone wants to be in North Wilkesboro.” Wood, however, was not among the applicants for the full-time position, adding “I’m retired.”
Wood added, “most of the applications came from North Carolina. We had some from South Carolina and Virginia as well. Most were men, but we had some women apply as well.”
The town was seeking applicants, preferably, with a masters degree in public administration and five years of on-the-job experience or educational experience. Many of the applicants had worked as assistant town manager or assistant to the town manager.
“But trying to gauge the applicants just by their education or their experience is just not the way to do it,” said Wood. “The commissioners need and want to talk with them to get a sense for how they will fit in here and how they will work with the town board and staff. They want to see what skills and talents they have. But the person with the best credentials may not be a good fit here.”
Field narrowed to seven
After reviewing the applications in a special work session, the commissioners narrowed the field to seven. Three of those seven have already completed preliminary interviews with the town.
“All of the candidates have met with all of the candidates thus far,” said Wood. “It would be nice if they all could meet everyone during this round, but that isn’t always possible.”
Wood said that the field will be narrowed to “two or three finalists” for a second round of interviews. He added, “It’s possible that one of the candidates could be the top choice of everyone, however. That could shorten the process. Otherwise, we will invite the finalists back for second interviews. Hopefully all of the commissioners can be present for all of those sessions.”
The commissioners have said that they would like to have their new town manager on the job by the end of the year.
Wood will not be involved in the final decision-making process.
“My feelings are immaterial,” he said. “This is for the board to determine. They have to hire the person they feel the most comfortable with and who relates with them the best. All of the finalists have good credentials on paper. We are very fortunate that we have more fully qualified individuals than we wanted to interview.”
He added, “The board members are very astute in the characteristics and qualities of the person they want to run the town. They are asking the type of questions that will bring out the characteristics they want to see.”