15 months and counting, Canton delays decision on town manager again

The Canton town board remains undecided about who will take over as town manager. The board was expected to choose between three finalists at its March 13 meeting, but two members pushed for a delay until at least the next meeting.


“The search is coming to a close, but we’re not there yet. It’s still ongoing,” said Alderman Zeb Smathers. 

Smathers said the board may have its decision wrapped up by the end of the month. The search for a new town manager began 15 months ago, when former town manager Al Matthews put in his retirement notice. The town board spent months going through applications and narrowing down the pool, only to reopen the process with a call for more applications in August. A decision still wasn’t reached by November’s town election, when all four Canton aldermen stepped down.

The new town board began anew in December, sifting and weeding through the applications, including holding meetings on Saturday and Sunday to work on the search. 

The three finalists they came up with include:

• Jason Burrell, who is the current interim town manager for Canton and lives in Asheville.

• Vincent Wong, a senior budget/system analyst for the City of Gastonia.

• Seth Handler-Voss, the park planning/development manager for the City of Asheville.

The town board held a public forum in January so that aldermen might hear from the public about what they were looking in a new town manager. Town officials also held a meet-and-greet for the public to interact with prospective finalists on March 1.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to incorporate what people in our community desire in a town manager,” Smathers said. “I’ve heard the most important thing people are looking for is experience. We’ve been working very hard on this and have been working in a very transparent way.”

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