Amid complaints over his management style, Union County’s Department of Social Services director has resigned after about five months on the job.
John Holtkamp had been on paid leave since June while DSS looked into complaints about his management style, DSS board Chairman Nathel Hailey said Friday. He declined to detail the complaints, but confirmed that the board had hired a private company to look into them.
“(Holtkamp’s) management style was not suitable for what the board was looking for,” Hailey said, declining to elaborate.
Holtkamp said style disagreements centered on the pace and direction of change.
“I wanted it to be faster,” he said.
Holtkamp also said there were philosophical differences on issues of accountability and enforcement. He declined to elaborate.
In an interview with the Observer shortly after he was hired, Holtkamp described his management style this way: “If you want the status quo, I’m not the person to hire. Just because you do something well doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.”
Hailey said Holtkamp’s philosophy about his management style had not come up during the interview process when the board hired him. But such issues will absolutely be part of the next search, Hailey said.
That search could take at least six months. The board has not had time to discuss what qualities it is looking for in its next leader, Hailey said.
Although the county announced the resignation Friday, Holtkamp’s resignation was effective July 19.
Holtkamp was hired in March to replace Dontae Latson, who resigned last summer after three years on the job. At the time, Latson said he wasn’t the right person for the DSS job because of his leadership style, but did not elaborate.
Before coming to Union County, Holtkamp worked in Durham County for two years and was its division director for child, adult and family services.
Holtkamp’s annual salary was $104,000. As part of a resignation settlement, the county said Holtkamp is receiving a lump sum payment of $8,750.
Suzanne Moose is serving as the agency’s interim director.
This is a critical time for the county DSS. Like other agencies, it is dealing with an increased workload amid limited resources.
In April, Union County commissioners approved spending $1.575 million to purchase land in Monroe for the future home of DSS and the county Department of Health and the Department of Social Services.
The announcement of Holtkamp’s resignation comes about a week after Monroe city officials announced the resignation of city manager Wayne Herron. He stepped down following heated closed-door bickering among City Council members over his decision not to grant a performance bonus to Police Chief Debra Duncan.