Citizens Forum Held On Hiring Of New Manager

Jim Freeman
Jim Freeman

About 40 people attended a public forum Monday night to discuss the selection process of hiring a new Smithfield town manager. Members of the town council and Mayor John Lampe met for an hour listening to public comment on the traits citizens would like to see in their next manager.

Interim Town Manager Jim Freeman answered questions from the audience about the selection process and timeline. Afterwards 13 people spoke to the council and mayor.  

Daniel Sanders with the Johnston County Chapter of the NAACP said he had concerns about the hiring process.  Sanders said many town employees were afraid to talk with the previous two town managers. “This is ridiculous, the way some managers have worked down here.”  Sanders requested the new manager have an open-door policy, take care of employees, and be friendly and speak to people,

Daniel Sanders
Daniel Sanders

Marsha George said the new manager needed to be more involved in the community, especially in the Belmont neighborhood.   Michelle Watson, a resident of Smithfield for the past 8 years, said the town is a great place but is “caught in a time warp and cannot move forward.” 

Pat Jackson asked the Council to hire someone who is open minded who can sit down and have a conversation with any citizen. Jackson said a new manager should also follow up on citizens concerns and have an open-door policy.   Sonny Howard said the next manager should be a visionary, someone who could think outside the box. 

Former Smithfield Parks & Recreation Director Tim Johnson said the new manager must be a team player, who will go in the same direction and has the same goals as the council and community.

Councilman Emery Ashley thanked those who attended saying the key is putting it all together over the next several months.  Mayor Pro Tem Andy Moore thanked those who attended the meeting. Moore said the citizens pay the salary of the town manager and the manager works for the citizens of the town.

Former Town Manager Paul Sabiston was fired by the Council in a 4-to-3 vote on August 4th.

Freeman said the town would begin advertising the vacancy in early-October and would receive applications through Nov. 16th.  The applicants would then be screened and finalists for the position would be interviewed in January and February.  Under the proposed timetable, the new manager would be announced in late-February or early-March.