Cobb spokeswoman resigns amid county manager leaving, SunTrust opening

Sheri Kell, Cobb County's spokeswoman, announced her resignation Friday, days after an interim county manager was named.

Kell spent two years with the county, coming in under former county commission chairman Tim Lee, with whom her family has deep political ties.

Kell told the AJC on Friday that she is leaving the fast-paced job to spend more time with her family, especially her son who is a freshman in high school.

“I need more flexibility, in a nutshell,” she said.

The 54-year-old came to Cobb in 1986 as a community reporter for the The Marietta Daily Journal.

Now after living in the same house for 25 years, seeing David Hankerson retire after nearly a quarter-century as county manager helped her feel OK about leaving.

“I love Cobb County and there’s nothing else that I wanted to go to, but I needed to create a better balance for our life,” she said.

She leaves after weathering the immense amount of scrutiny that came with the county’s decision to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to bring a major-league baseball stadium to the metro Atlanta suburb.

Tim Lee lost his re-election bid in July as county commission chairman in what was seen as a referendum on voters' distaste for the process of bringing the Atlanta Braves to Cobb.

“I had been planning this and trying to figure out the best time. I absolutely had to wait until we opened SunTrust,” she said. “Once we got that successfully open, and it was a huge success, I thought that with (Hankerson) leaving it was a good time.”

Kell said she plans to open a public relations firm in the area on her own, so she can make use of her decades of experience and contacts but still make her own schedule.

“I think I can have a real sweet spot to work with some public-private entities,” she said.

Kell, who said she was one of 133 applicants, explained that the process for hiring a new face of the county usually goes like this:

The job is posted, after a few weeks county human resources staff review the applicants, a panel of department heads whittle the pool to five candidates, the county manager selects two or three and interviews them before bringing one recommendation before the commission to approve.

The process will be up to Rob Hosack, who was named Hankerson’s replacement as county manager Wednesday.

Kell’s last day on the job will be May 24.

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