FUQUAY-VARINA — For the second time in three years, Fuquay-Varina is looking for a town manager.
But this time, town officials are taking a more hands-on approach.
The Board of Commissioners decided Monday not to hire an outside firm to recruit a new manager. Instead, Mayor John Byrne, interim Town Manager Andy Hedrick and Human Resources Director Dan Gray will look for candidates.
Applicants will be vetted by the town’s Law and Finance Committee, which is made up of three commissioners. The committee will then make recommendations to the full board.
Hedrick recommended using internal resources to search for the next town manager. He described the head-hunting approach as being the “point of the spear.”
“(It allows) for us to go out and shake trees for apples,” Hedrick said. “We can be more of a head hunter than just a gatherer. We can bring some more quality applicants in here.”
The Law and Finance Committee will meet Monday to draft a job description and come up with a method to evaluate candidates.
Commissioner Charlie Adcock said the process may be time consuming, but he was willing to put in the work.
“I do think it’s the most important thing we’re going to be doing in the next six months,” Adcock said. “I think we know this town better than anybody.”
In its quest to find a new administrator, Fuquay-Varina could face plenty of competition from towns and cities across the state.
Throughout North Carolina, 40 towns, cities and counties are looking for new leaders to guide their day-to-day operations.
In the Triangle, Raleigh, Morrisville and Holly Springs are on the hunt for managers. There will also be openings in Orange, Durham and Wake counties, where county managers have announced plans to retire.
In Fuquay-Varina, Jon Barlow abruptly resigned his town manager post June 28 after about two years on the job. He didn’t give the town two weeks’ notice or a reason for his quick departure.
Commissioner Bill Harris was the only town board member to vote against an internal search.
“I prefer we hire a professional search committee, so we can make sure we have a wide enough search to ensure we have the talent we need,” Harris said. “One of the benefits is it keeps the process objective.”
In 2010, the town paid Developmental Associates of Durham $18,900 to perform a nationwide search for a town manager. Barlow was selected out of a pool of 79 candidates.
Commissioner Jim Abernethy said he respected Harris’ view but was fine with an internal search group.
“We are still a small town. We’re willing to put the personal time and effort,” Abernethy said. “It’s important we have our own people out there leading the charge, having our own people picking the cream of the crop. It seems a little outside the box. I like hands-on and personal (approach).”
Staff writer Martha Quillin contributed to this report.