ELIZABETHTON — The list of candidates to be the next city manager of Elizabethton is now down to three, and the only candidate with previous city management experience is no longer in the running.
Mayor Curt Alexander said Jeffrey Morse, who was scheduled to be interviewed Thursday, has decided to drop out of the competition. Morse has decided to remain the town manager of Valdese, N.C., a position he has held since 1980.
“He called me to let me know he has decided he wants to stay in Valdese,” Alexander said. The mayor said part of the reason is that Morse is about to be a grandfather and he wanted to remain near his family.
“I can understand that, I believe this is his first grandchild. I also know he has a good situation in Valdese,” Alexander said Monday.
Alexander said he would have enjoyed meeting Morse. He said he has received a lot of favorable comments about the job he has done in North Carolina.
With the withdrawal, Alexander said the schedule for selecting a city manager may be accelerated. There is now only one remaining candidate to be interviewed. Steven Neilson, development coordinator for Johnson City, will be interviewed at 2 p.m. Thursday in the second floor conference room at City Hall. Alexander said the council may choose to hold an open meeting in the Council Chambers immediately following the interview to discuss the three candidates and possibly reach a final decision.
The other two candidates are Melissa Peagler, senior planner for Morristown, and Jerome Kitchens, finance director for Elizabethton and interim city manager. The council interviewed them Friday.