By: Thomas Sherrill, The News Reporter
Longtime Elizabethtown Town Manager Eddie Madden was approved as the new Columbus County manager Wednesday morning.
“I appreciate the confidence the board has put in me and I’m looking forward to working with the board and staff of Columbus County,” Madden said after the vote by the county commissioners.“The board has been very accommodating and the staff has been very helpful during the process.”
Madden, who has been town manager in Elizabethtown for 13 years, said he would start with Columbus County in 60 days after he submits his resignation notice to his town council.
Eddie Madden after being approved as the new Columbus County manager
“Columbus County has a lot of potential and I think I have a lot to add and I’m looking forward to moving the county forward,” Madden said. “My door’s always open, I’m open to suggestions and ideas and in the next several months, I’ll be going around to different parts of the county, getting familiar with the different municipalities and local government leaders and citizens alike.”
The vote to hire Madden came after a special-called meeting that started at 9 a.m. Commissioners immediately went into closed session to discuss personnel, with Madden present. The meeting came out of closed session around 9:50 a.m., which was followed by the vote to approve the contract.
“This board looks forward to working with you and I know good things will happen,” Board Chair Ricky Bullard told Madden after the vote.
“Looking through his resume and past experience and his job, all the knowledge that he has, we just thought he was the best candidate,” Vice Chair Jerome McMillian said. “Man, we got someone we feel like will work with the county, work with the department heads and move in a different direction…At this point, we’re going to try to move on, make our county grow and prosper.”
The vote to approve the contract was 6-1, with Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd voting against, saying the contract is “mighty expensive for a poor county like Columbus.”
The News Reporter has requested a copy of Madden’s contract from county attorney Amanda Prince.
“Reading this contract Mister Chairman, it’s the most one-sided contract I’ve ever helped negotiate. Everything is to the employee. The county as far I’m concerned with this contract sold out,” Byrd said, later adding that he wants to be fair to the taxpayers and other employees.
Bullard responded that he felt it was a “good contract.” Besides Byrd and Bullard, no other commissioner spoke in public session about the contract.
After the vote, Byrd told Madden what he said about the contract had nothing to do with how he wants to work with him going forward.
Madden follows Mike Stephens, who retired as county manager effective Nov. 30, 2020. In the interim, Bullard was given the powers of an interim manager following a unanimous board vote in a Dec. 7, 2020 meeting.
According to his LinkedIn page, Madden earned a masters degree in public administration from Western Carolina University and a municipal government certification from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Government. He is board chair for Emereau, a charter school in Elizabethtown.