Cherokee County Deputy County Manager Geoff Morton has been named the sole candidate on the short list to replace County Manager Jerry Cooper, the county announced on April 21.

Cooper will retire at the end of May after 20 years of service as county manager.

Under the Georgia Open Records Act, a short list of up to three candidates must be made public prior to the county board of commissioners’ vote. The commissioners are expected to vote on the new county manager at their May 18 meeting.

“Jerry Cooper has been an exceptional county manager,” Chairman Harry Johnston said in a statement. “His retirement marks the end of a great era for Cherokee County. We’re really fortunate that we have someone in-house as capable and universally respected as Geoff Morton to replace Jerry. The Board of Commissioners trusts Geoff completely to maintain what’s great about our county and keep us moving forward.”

Morton, who has worked for the county 19 years, said he is honored to be selected for the short list.

“I am humbled to be chosen as the sole finalist for county manager. I’ve worked with Jerry for about 25 years, and he’s been a great mentor and role model,” Morton said in a statement. “I want to thank the Board of Commissioners for putting their faith in me, and I will strive to serve the Board of Commissioners, other county elected officials, county staff and the citizens of Cherokee County to the best of my ability.”

The county manager serves as a key advisor to the board of commissioners and manages at the corporate level in the execution of the board’s strategic plan.

Additionally, the county manager provides guidance and assistance to the senior leadership team in the execution of department and division business plans and programs.

Morton currently serves as the Community Development Agency director and deputy county manager. He is the municipal liaison to address city and county relations and as the spokesperson for the commissioners on Service Delivery Strategy, a state-required set of agreements between county and city governments. Additionally, Morton also serves as the county liaison with regional agencies including the Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta Regional Commission, Georgia Environmental Protection Division and FEMA.

Morton came to the county in 2001 from the city of Woodstock, where he previously served as city engineer and public works director. His first role with the county was capital projects and roadway Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax manager before being promoted to county engineer in 2003. During a 2011 staff reorganization, Morton became the public works agency director and county engineer, managing operations of the county’s engineering and stormwater departments, roadway SPLOST program, Cherokee Area Transportation System (CATS), roads and bridges, fleet services, property maintenance and recycling.

In 2018, Morton’s title changed to community development agency director where he managed the operations of the county’s engineering, stormwater, roadway SPLOST program, public works, planning and zoning, and buiding and development services departments, and the Development Service Center. He was named deputy county manager in 2020.

Morton graduated from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1986. After college, he worked in the private sector as a consulting engineer in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He is a registered professional engineer in Georgia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Shannon Ballew is the managing editor at the Cherokee Tribune and the Cherokee Ledger-News. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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