Alex Sewell began his first day as the new Wadesboro town manager on Monday, filling John Witherspoon’s seat that Cecil Wood had been holding in the interim.
Sewell was born and raised in Wake County. A licensed attorney, he went to law school in a J.D./M.P.A. program, graduating in the top 10 percent of his class and tying for the highest class GPA. Sewell just finished his course work for the M.P.A and is excited for his new position. “I’ve been successful in school and I’m just so excited,” Sewell said. “I enjoyed the law and was good at it but I really enjoy the community aspect of town manager. I don’t view this role as a 9-5 job. I view it as something where I want to get immersed within a community, become a part of it.”
Sewell enjoys working out, outdoor activities, and playing guitar, describing himself as a “laid-back guy.” Sewell formerly worked as an assistant in the city manager’s office in the town of Apex while in school, helping to prepare him for his new role. Sewell has experience in all phases of municipal administration, according to a press release he sent Monday evening. This includes experience in economic development, strategic planning, public works, finance, public safety, grant-writing, human resources and municipal law.
Although he isn’t native to Wadesboro, Sewell had been through town before and when he became interested in the position he took the time to look deeper into the town. “I just walked around and talked with a lot of people,” Sewell said. “I think a lot of times people, when they see an outsider, are kind of hesitant to talk to you. But walking into the drug store and the little hardware store, [people were] talking to me and just being really friendly like they’d known me my whole life. It was something I wanted to be a part of because I have to love where I am in order to be the town manager, and I love Wadesboro.”
“It really struck me as just really cool. I love the architecture of the old towns,” Sewell said. “I think that with that age comes a lot of tradition, which really appeals to me.”
Sewell intends to focus on planning, partnerships and community. “Planning is very important,” he said. “In order to learn and decide where you’re going you have to set goals and creating some sort of plan to meet those goals. Before we decide where we’re going we have to decide what we want to be, first. And partnerships; partnering with the county, combining resources, creating economies of scale.
“And the community aspect of it: getting out in the community and learning people’s names,” he continued. “I don’t want to meet people for the first time when they have a problem. I want to establish a relationship first and just get to know people first because it’s a lot easier to get through a problem with a friend than a stranger. I know one of the big things that I think is a predominant concerns from everyone I’ve talked to on the council and citizens is economic development. And that’s something we’re going to focus on that is most likely going to be a priority.”
To accomplish all of this, Sewell said he needs to learn about the community by listening. “You don’t learn anything running your mouth,” he said. “I don’t want Wadesboro to be what I want it to be. I want Wadesboro to be what this community wants it to be. I’m excited to be a part of that community, but ultimately I’m a facilitator. Although I can be a leader, my goal is to facilitate the ideas and the imagination and the desires of this community.”
Wadesboro Mayor Bill Thacker is pleased with Sewell’s appointment. “After several months of rigorous searching including analyzing resumes and conducting interviews, I think the board has made an excellent hire for the future of Wadesboro,” he said in a press release on Monday.
Sewell has high hopes for the town. “There’s so much potential economically. I can see it,” he said. “I think we’ve got a lot to offer, I really do. I’m excited to be here.”