Longtime Cherokee County Manager Jerry Cooper will retire from his role at the end of May after serving in the role for 20 years.
“The average tenure of a county manager is seven to eight years, so I did not think back then that I would be retiring from Cherokee County 20 years later,” Cooper said in a statement. “I have enjoyed working with the best commissioners and employees in the country. We arrive every day to work as a team to make Cherokee County a great place to raise a family, live, work and play for our great residents.”
Cherokee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Harry Johnston said Cooper was the principal architect for helping keep the county’s tax burden the lowest in the metro Atlanta region, while providing excellent services to residents and visitors.
“I believe Jerry Cooper is the best county manager in Georgia,” Johnston said. “Besides his direct role as county manager, Jerry has been an outstanding citizen in Cherokee County. He has led more civic and charitable organizations, and raised more money for them, than anyone else I know.”
Over the last 20 years, Cherokee County’s population has grown by more than 100,000 as people find a suburban locale with great amenities, schools and low taxes. Cooper pointed to several key accomplishments, including doubling parks and greenspace, enhancing fire and emergency services, the county reporting the lowest crime rate in metro Atlanta. Cooper and the county did this, he said, while also keeping the tax burden low. He credits the team effort and the great leaders he’s worked alongside for the last two decades for Cherokee County’s success.
“I have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people. That and what we have achieved together is my most rewarding career accomplishment,” Cooper said.
Cooper began his career in public administration in Fayetteville, Arkansas after serving in the U.S. Navy and graduating from the University of Arkansas. The job market relocated him to Newnan, before becoming the city manager of Woodstock. When he was hired as the county manager, he never thought he would finish his career in one of the fastest growing counties in Georgia.
As the board of commissioners searches for the next county manager, Cooper advises whomever takes his place to always remain humble, work hard, commit to honesty and trustworthiness and to lead by example.
“Surround yourself with great leaders and build strong relationships,” he said. “Work closely with the Board of Commissioners, community leaders and other elected officials, invest in others, work hard, listen and always be willing to learn.”