Written by Community Editor Nicole Foulke
Crandall Jones, who brings years of government sector experience to his new position as the municipal administrator of Norristown, sat down with Patch recently to chat about his southern roots, his enthusiasm for community involvement, and why he is intrigued by Norristown.
Jones started his municipal administrator position about 2 weeks ago, after moving from Georgia to the Norristown area. He was appointed to the position by the Municipal Council on Aug. 20.
First, Patch asked Jones to share his own explanation about what a municipal administrator position entails:
Jones: an analogy is that the Municipal Council is basically the board of directors of the city, and I’m the chief administrative officer. So, the council lays out the overall vision and mission of the government and it’s the administrator’s job to take that and work with and lead all the various departments that make up the government to accomplish that mission. So, I report to the ‘board’ as a body, to the council as a body.
Jones told Patch about some of his experiences in government employment, in the South, where he was raised:
Jones: I started in 1983 as a community development planner with the city of Savannah, Georgia, and then I was a city administrator in 1986 in Seat Pleasant, Maryland. I have been a county manager twice, both in Georgia and then in South Carolina and another stint as a city manager in East Point, Georgia, an urban city outside of Atlanta that is in some ways similar to Norristown.
Patch asked Jones what brought him to Norristown:
Jones: the thing that really attracted me here was, one, the opportunities to put my hands in some real project work. I was really intrigued by the fact that you have riverfront that’s undeveloped, you’ve got brownfield sites that need redeveloping. I think that it is a vibrant community … the council, in meeting with me during the interview process, really intrigued me in terms of what they wanted to accomplish and the passion they had in terms of wanting to do something for the city.
Jones, being new to the area, will spend the next weeks learning about Norristown and the government that he is now a part of as they eventually go into labor union negotiations and budget negotiations:
Jones: I love this community, it’s so diverse. I want to help facilitate synergy between those elements of the community to work on transforming the community. I want to make the government more customer-friendly … exciting times, exciting challenges, and I think there are always opportunities to discover innovative ways of accomplishing mutual goals.
Jones told Patch that he was excited about all of the assets in the Norristown community, talking about the Elmwood Park Zoo, the riverfront, and the “vibrant downtown.” What has charmed him about Norristown life?
Jones: I’ve discovered that I’m going to be in trouble with my wife for eating all of this new delicious food. Plenty of great restaurants. I’m amazed by the zoo. It’s amazing to have a zoo in a municipality this size. I’ve actually been out there are last week had the opportunity to go out there and feed the giraffes. My goodness, you can’t get that opportunity in a lot of places.
Patch and Jones also chatted about his move up to the North, and his life in the South:
Jones: at my heart I’m a small-town boy from Cordele, Georgia, watermelon capital of the world. That’s at my heart who I am, very much a product of who my mother raised me to be. I love my family, I have a beautiful wife Letha, and Letha and I have a son, Ethan, who will be 15 this month, a son, who will be nine this month, Noah, and I have, from a previous relationship, a beautiful 29-year-old daughter, Shavonne, who I love dearly, as I do all of them.
Patch asked Crandall Jones what he was looking forward to:
Jones: I’m really excited about the journey, and meeting folks, and getting engaged and various conversations. I hope that everybody has the energy to do some of the things we’ve talked about, and people have shared with me. I absolutely have the energy to try.