Newton’s search for a new city manager came to an end on Wednesday.
by Sarah Johnson, Hickory Daily Record
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Jonathan Franklin, 35, signed a contract to become the city manager for Newton during a special called meeting of the Newton City Council on Wednesday. Franklin will begin work on May 6.
“It’s been 15 years since we’ve had a new city manager. We started this process in late November. It’s taken a while to get here, but we think we got the right person,” Newton City Councilman John Stiver said. “As we were trying to come up with how to describe the new city manager, we wanted somebody that was energetic, somebody who was outgoing and somebody who was action oriented.”
Franklin is currently the administrator of Louisburg, North Carolina, a town of around 3,400 people, he said. More than 13,000 people were residing in Newton in April of 2020, according to the United States Census Bureau’s website.
Franklin has roughly 11 years of experience in local government management, he said. Franklin’s base salary will be $150,000, according to the employment agreement between Franklin and the city of Newton.
During his time as the town administrator for Louisburg, Franklin developed the town’s first strategic economic development plan focused on community development, business growth and retention and downtown rehabilitation, according to a news release from the city of Newton.
Franklin’s financial management, utilities experience and innovativeness impressed the city council, Stiver said. During his time with Louisburg, Franklin obtained over $25 million in grants and loans for various municipal and economic development projects, which also impressed the council, Stiver said.
Franklin said he started looking into Newton after he found out the former city manager resigned.
“I found that they (Newton) had a very committed group of elected officials, very dedicated group of staff members,” Franklin said, “and a community that was really supportive of what the city council and the staff are doing. That’s three really important aspects of a city, especially when you’re city manager.”
Franklin and his wife Lauren are excited to move to Newton based on what they have seen and heard about the community, he said. Franklin is most looking forward to meeting people.
“Building relationships with the city council members, both individually and as a whole. Getting to know the staff, learning their needs, what their goals are and what they’re interested in accomplishing in their individual departments,” Franklin said. “Also, getting to know the community. Lauren and I make it a point to be a part of the community and get to know as many people as we can. So we look forward to just meeting everybody and becoming a part of the city.”