Lee wants the board to hire Jackie McMorris of Canton, chief of staff of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, as the county’s new public services director.
And he’s asking the board to hire Jack Forsythe of Currituck, N.C., who has served in executive roles with NASA and FEMA/Homeland Security, as the county’s next public safety director.
Lee said county manager David Hankerson recommended both choices to him.
“We always try our hardest to look inside for folks to be promoted to fill a vacancy,” Lee said. “These are people who have already worked for the county. They’ve been here, they’ve given their heart and soul for it, and we always strongly look hard at internal candidates as we evaluate what’s the best decision to make. In these two particular instances we felt outside candidates brought more to the position than what was available to us. That’s not to say that people that applied for it that were internal aren’t good people and aren’t dedicated and talented, it’s just as it relates to these particular positions we felt that we arrived at a different person.”
The background check on McMorris was conducted by the county’s Human Resources Department and Internal Affairs, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
Meanwhile, Marietta-based InfoMart conducted the background check on Forsythe at no cost to the county. Quigley said the county went outside for the check because in his role as public safety director, Forsythe would have a supervisory role over internal affairs.
If approved today as public services director, McMorris will oversee about 450 full time employees in five departments: elections; parks and recreation; libraries; senior services; and extension services.
The county received a total of 135 applications for the position, with 41 of those considered eligible for the job, which has a salary range of $96,805 to $157,809.
Bob Ash, who retired in 2010, was the last public services director. Lee said the slot was deliberately left open while the Citizens Oversight Committee was conducting its review of the county government. That committee ultimately recommended the position continue to be filled.
A native of Kilmichael, Miss., McMorris earned a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi-based Rust College, a master’s from Auburn University and an Ed.D. from the University of Arkansas. She taught speech communication at Georgia Perimeter College in Stone Mountain. Prior to working with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, McMorris worked as the community services agency director for the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners from 2003 to 2011.
McMorris, 49, and her husband, Wilbert, have a 25-year-old son.
“I believe that Cobb first of all is just a really great place to work, great community, and I already know that they have top notch administrative staff and great department heads and team members and I would love to be a part of that,” she said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to work with not only the Board of Commissioners and the county manager and the members within the agency but also to try to make a real differences in the level of services that we bring to the residences of Cobb County.”
If approved as public safety director, Forsythe would be in charge of the 710 employees in the Cobb Police Department, the 683 employees in the Cobb Fire Department, the 125 employees in the county’s 911 unit and the 53 staff members in the animal control unit. He will receive a salary of between $101,587 and $165,651.
There were 206 total applicants for public safety director, a position advertised in national trade magazines. Of those, 66 applicants were considered eligible. The position became vacant when Mickey Lloyd resigned in July 2010 amid claims he had embellished his military career.
Forsythe, 59, and his wife of 34 years, Susan, have one son. Forsythe was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up there and in Prince George’s County, Md. He has worked as a self-employed public safety consultant since 2011. From 2003 to 2011, Forsythe worked for NASA, where he was the senior law enforcement official responsible for public safety functions at 14 self-contained city-structured sites across the country.
Before NASA, Forsythe worked for FEMA/Homeland Security, for the FCC, and as the executive commander of Prince George’s County Public Safety Communications. He has a master’s degree in applied behavioral sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in management sciences from the University of Maryland.
Lee said he was not satisfied with the applications the county received for a third key vacancy, that of support services director, which became open when Virgil Moon retired in September. The county will now restart the advertising process for that position.
Lee hopes to have the job filled by March. The support services director supervises the operational departments of government service center/mail services; fleet management; information services; property management and purchasing; records management; and tax assessor, and is the liaison to other government agencies and officials.