MARIETTA — Cobb County has a new county manager.
The county’s governing board approved the promotion of Jackie McMorris to the position Tuesday night. Commissioners voted 4-1, with south Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid being the sole vote in opposition.
The position became available when current county manager Rob Hosack announced he would be retiring in April. McMorris, currently the county’s deputy manager, started working for Cobb County in 2013 as the public services director, and became deputy county manager in October 2017, according to the county’s website.
Cupid had previously stated her opposition to McMorris’ hiring, saying the process should have been opened to other candidates.
“I almost feel set up,” Cupid said during a lengthy defense of her vote. She said county Chairman Mike Boyce did not consult the Board of Commissioners before announcing at his State of the County address Jan. 10 that he would ask the board to approve McMorris’ hiring.
Over the weekend, Boyce told the Marietta Daily Journal that the county chairman can select the county manager, whose hiring is subject to board approval.
Cupid acknowledged Boyce had that right.
County code, she said, “certainly gives you the opportunity to take that course of action, but it doesn’t obligate you to take that course of action.”
The south Cobb commissioner went out of her way to stress that she thinks McMorris is fit for the position.
“I think the world of our deputy county manager, Jackie McMorris. I think the absolute world of her,” Cupid said. But, she continued, hiring of high-level employees in county government typically involves discussions among commissioners and the county manager and opening the hiring process to internal or external applicants which employees in human resources then vet.
“We don’t always apply all of those steps, but we always have at least one of those steps,” Cupid said — something that did not happen in this case.
When it was his turn to speak, east Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said Cupid was dragging out a non-issue.
“It is not unfair to me,” Ott said sharply. “What is unfair is to drag Dr. McMorris through the mud over a procedural issue.
“Her record, her education, her job performance speak for themselves,” he continued. “You want to talk about the cream floating to the top? She’s the creme de la creme.”
Before the meeting began, Cupid took heat from her own constituents over her opposition to McMorris’ hiring.
“I am astonished by the suggestion that this process lacks transparency or has not been open,” said Sheila Edwards, who is running to succeed Cupid as the commissioner for District 4. Cupid is running for the chairman position.
Edwards echoed comments Ott gave to the Marietta Daily Journal last week, in which he said the deputy county manager position had been created with the understanding it was going to be part of succession planning.
After the vote, commissioners and attendees stood to applaud McMorris, who walked to the front of the room and stood beside the lectern. Emotional, she told the crowd that her husband died six weeks ago.
“I am here for you. All I have to give you is my service, and I thank you. I thank my husband who supported me, who is with me right here, right now,” she said. “All of you, (from) public safety to the person who cleans this building. I love you dearly. Thank you.”
McMorris will assume the position of county manager April 5.