Deputy Harnett County Manager Paula Kelly Stewart has been named interim county manager following the departure of County Manager Joseph Jeffries this morning.
Jeffries resigned effective October 10, 2017, to take a position as manager with the Town of Lillington. The Harnett County Board of Commissioners selected Stewart to serve as interim county manager.
“We appreciate all Joseph has done to get us where we are today and we know Paula will continue leading us where we’ve already started going,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Gordon Springle. “We’re confident Harnett County is going to continue to progress.”
Stewart, a Lillington native who currently resides in Angier, said she is grateful to be given the opportunity to continue moving Harnett County forward.
“I want to thank Joseph for the confidence he had in me when he made me his deputy, and the Board of Commissioners for placing their trust in me to serve as interim manager,” said Stewart.
She wished Jeffries well in his future endeavors and said she looks forward to making a positive difference in her home county in this new role.
“As someone who was born and raised in Harnett County, I have a strong connection to the County’s motto of ‘Strong Roots, New Growth’ – I am proud of our heritage, but I am also excited about what lies ahead for us,” she said. “My goal is to improve the lives of our citizens along with the efficiency and effectiveness of county services, and to be an advocate for our employees.”
Stewart also noted the historical significance of her appointment.
“I feel honored to be Harnett County’s first woman interim county manager,” she said. “I am confident in the management team we have in place, and in our department heads as we move forward.”
Stewart came to Harnett County as IT Director in 1996. In February 2015, she was brought in as interim deputy county manager, and she was named deputy county manager by the Board of Commissioners in May 2015.
Stewart grew up in Lillington and currently resides in Angier. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Certified Government Chief Information Officer with the UNC School of Government.
Prior to working for Harnett County, she worked at N.C. State University for nine years as a budget analyst and applications analyst. She attends Angier Baptist Church. She and her husband, Del, have been married for more than 27 years and have two daughters – Kelly and Natalie.
Jeffries was first hired by Harnett County in 2002 as chief planner with the Harnett County Planning Department. He became director of Planning & Development Services in 2007. He was named Harnett County Manager in May 2015 following two years as deputy manager and two stints as interim manager.