Stewart accepts job as General Manager of Johnston County ABC Board
Chad Stewart, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, has announced his resignation. The resignation will be effective November 30, 2021. Stewart said he has accepted a new job and is stepping down prior to the end of his term to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.
“I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election as Johnston County Commissioner. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the constituents of Johnston County, and I was humbled to have been elected twice for this position. Words cannot describe my family’s gratitude to Johnston County voters, my fellow Commissioners and especially the staff at the County offices for the work they do day in and day out to keep our County running smoothly. The successes that we have been able to achieve over the last eight years would not have been possible without them, and especially not possible without the support of my loving wife Ursula and our boys Grant, Drew and Grimes,” Chairman Stewart told The Johnston County Report.
“While I am stepping away from my County Commission seat, I take great satisfaction in what we have been able to achieve for Johnston County. Public service is not only in my blood, but it is in my heart. My background and passion is in serving Johnston County, but first and foremost I look forward to focusing on my family and my responsibilities as a husband and father. That’s why I feel now is the time to step away to pursue other exciting opportunities for the Stewart family and allow this position the full opportunity in the future to focus 100 percent on serving the great constituents of Johnston County.”
Mr. Stewart, age 51, has accepted a job as General Manager of the Johnston County ABC Board. He will replace Swade Carroll who is retiring at the end of the year.
Stewart will begin work November 1, 2021 as the interim general manager and transition to ABC general manager in Smithfield on January 1, 2022.
Stewart said he conducted a thorough legal review of holding a county commission seat and also working full-time with the Johnston County ABC. He said lawyers found no concerns with holding both positions, however, to avoid any appearance of a potential conflict he will resign from public office.
County commissioners appoint three members to the Johnston County ABC Commission that oversee the general manager and employees. Those same three members interviewed and hired Mr. Stewart.
While commissioners do appoint the three member ABC Commission in the county, Stewart says he received no favoritism for the position and applied like other applicants.
“I am one vote of seven commissioners. I directly did not appoint any one of these three members.”
“It came to me that the general manager was retiring December 31st,” Stewart said. “I was approached not by a commissioner or ABC board member, but by someone who heard about this and said is this something you want to consider. I thought about it. I did reach out for legal advice and there didn’t seem to be anything preventing me from doing both. But in the interest of both organizations, I will concentrate on the one position.”
“I felt at my age this opportunity, with my 25 plus years experience, with multiple retail stores and automotive, my four year business degree, my tenure with government and public service, it was a fit for me. I could not control the timeline.”
Stewart hold a Business Administration degree from Campbell University (1998) and was honorably discharged from the US Navy. For the past 14 years he has owned and operated 301 Service Center & Auto Sales in Four Oaks.
Stewart said he was officially offered the ABC position on October 18th and over the course of the past week made the decision to step down from the board of commissioners.
District 3 Term
One year still remains on his four year term as District 3 Commissioner. His six fellow board members will appoint someone to fill out the unexpired term.
“The board will need to appoint someone to fill out my term. This is no control of mine. I have no idea who will be appointed or who will file for my seat. I wanted to give ample time for people to decide what to do.”
Chad was appointed in April 2013 to fill out the unexpired term of his father, Wade Stewart, who died while in office. He won election in 2014 and was reelected in 2018. He served as vice chairman in 2019 and 2020. He has served as chairman in 2021.
ABC Board Statement
The Johnston County Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control released a statement about the hiring of Chairman Stewart.
“In September of this year, the Johnston County ABC Board began the comprehensive process to select the best candidate to serve as the next General Manager. Hiring a General Manager is one of the most important decisions that the Board makes. It impacts the effectiveness of the board and the services to the residents and businesses of the County.
“Today, the Board is pleased to announce the hiring of Chad Stewart to serve as General Manager of the Johnston County ABC. We are confident that Chad is the right individual for the job and has the background, experience and skill set to effectively lead our county system.”
“Chad’s resume of effective public leadership, professional business career experience, Military and educational training and long list of public service engagements make him a perfect fit for the job. Our county system will benefit from Chad Stewart’s work ethic and enthusiasm to ensure the success of our current and future projects that provide Johnston County valuable services and economic enhancement,” the statement read.
According to the ABC Board, the general manager is responsible for overseeing nine liquor stores and 53 current employees. The position includes responsibilities for planning, directing, coordinating, supervising and executing all the operations and activities of the Johnston County Board of Alcoholic Control.
Johnston County Commissioner Ted Godwin told The Johnston County Report, “I had the privilege, albeit a short time, of serving with Chad’s dad, Wade. Chad has brought the same passion for serving the people of Johnston County as his Dad had. He served as vice chairman when I was Chair and it has been a pleasure working alongside him. I hate to see him go. “
Commissioner Butch Lawter said, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with Commissioner Stewart in the three years we have shared on the Board. I can say, without reservation, that Commissioner Stewart’s passion for serving the people of Johnston County is unparalleled. I am appreciative of the time he spent mentoring me on many issues. The people of Johnston County, the Board, and I will miss the enthusiasm and willingness to serve.”
In an email Commissioner Tony Braswell said, “I am fortunate that I was on the board when we appointed Chad to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners due to the untimely death of his father. I have watch him grow to be the leader he has become. His passion and enthusiasm will be missed and hard to replace. Chad always tried to make the best decisions for the county every time, every vote. His character and personality will be missed by me and by others. I wish him well in his new endeavor and I am sure he will show the same dedication to this new position.”
Rick Hester said there has always been a ‘Stewart’ on the board since he been a county manager. “Mr Stewart has been an outstanding county commissioner. He has always had a passion for public service. I will miss him, and I wish him the very best.”
Mr. Stewart will have a starting salary of $80,000 as ABC general manager about $40,000 less than Carroll.