There was a subtle but important title change for a top position in Guilford County government recently.  The former second-in-command was called the “deputy county manager” – while the new second-in-command is now called an “assistant county manager.”

 Why the change? 

On Thursday, March 4, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford told the Rhino Times the change was because “deputy county manager” suggests there is only one, while “assistant county manager” doesn’t. Halford then explained that he would like to see the county move to two assistant managers rather than having just the one it has now.

For about two decades, Guilford County government has only had one second-in-command to help out the manager, but now, with Halford at the helm, a change seems likely.  In the past, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston – the most powerful person in Guilford County government right now – has supported having two assistant managers.

Halford, the former budget director for Guilford County, took his position as county manager at the start of 2021.  This week, he announced that he’d hired former Guilford County Budget Analyst Jason Jones to fill the vacant assistant manager position. 

He said Guilford County’s government is due for a “restructuring” – which, he said, would involve other moves on top of adding a second assistant county manager position. 

Usually, when the county adds new positions, it does so along with the adoption of the annual budget which is typically finalized in June.  Those budget discussions get going in early March each year.

Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen said that, about 20 years ago, when he served as a Guilford County commissioner, there was a successful vote by the then 11-member board to eliminate one of the two assistant manager positions.

“Me and  Bob Landreth and Skip voted against getting rid of the position,” Thigpen said. “We lost 8 to 3.”

Thigpen said the motion to get rid of the position years ago was made by former Republican Commissioner Steve Arnold.