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Madden stepping down as county administrator

After 25 years working in local government, Crista Madden has learned not to take things personally.

Madden, who will step down as Franklin County administrator at the end of August, has heard her share of complaints and concerns from the public over a quarter-century. She's never taken it personally. In fact, she encourages people to get involved in local government.

“The fact that I've been here twenty-five years, I guess I see things in a different light. We're here to serve the public,” Madden said. “We work for the taxpayers of Franklin County. Most of the time when they come in to county commission meetings, they have a legitimate concern. People need more than anything to know someone cares about their problem.

“Often the issue is we don't have enough money to do what we'd like to do to help them, but I admire people who come to meetings and get involved. I've never taken that personally. That's part of our governmental process."

Madden began working for Franklin County on September 1, 1992, when she was hired as county accountant. She became assistant county administrator on October 1, 2005, and Franklin County probate judge Barry Moore appointed her county administrator on October 1, 2009.

She recently decided to step down after 25 years to accept the same position of county administrator for Chilton County. Madden will start her new job in Clanton on October 1, 2017.

“It wasn't an opportunity I was seeking," she said. "I was online looking at the ACCA [Association of County Commissions of Alabama] and saw the position advertised. I sent a resume and thought I'd see what happens. They called me for an interview and offered me the job. It was an increase in pay and a career opportunity I couldn't let pass by."

It wasn't a hastily made decision for Madden. She and her husband Jeff, an assistant principal at Muscle Shoals High School, have two children attending the University of North Alabama. Their son Kody will be a senior, and their daughter Darby, who earned a basketball scholarship, will be a freshman.

“I'll live in Clanton during the week and have weekend visitation with the family,” Madden said. “And yes, Jeff and I are very happily married. This was not an easy decision, because I have to move and reside there. But long-term this is the best decision for our family and one made by the entire family.

“I'm excited about the next phase of my life. We'll move Darby to UNA this weekend, and then I'll move next weekend."

The public is invited to a farewell party honoring Madden and her 25 years of service to Franklin County on Tuesday, August 29 from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Franklin County Commission Office conference room.

Unlike other positions in the commission office, the county administrator is appointed at the pleasure of the probate judge, who serves as chairman of the Franklin County Commission. Moore said he will not immediately appoint a replacement for Madden, and her duties will be assumed collectively by Leah Mansell, Mandi Willis, Jessica Thompson and Kim Brooks.

“We're not going to fill that position at this time," Moore said. "The staff will work together and divide her duties among them. We have a very good staff of ladies in the commission office, and we'll work together and move forward.

“Crista has been here twenty-five years, and we appreciate her service to Franklin County. She will be greatly missed. It's hard to replace twenty-five years of service."

Other than one year when she worked for Dependable True Value Service Center in Russellville, Madden's entire professional career has been with Franklin County. She graduated from UNA in May of 1991 with a degree in Accounting. Madden, whose father Rayburn Massey is in his third term as Franklin County Commissioner for District Three, has lived her entire life in the Dempsey community of Franklin County. She is a 1987 graduate of Red Bay High School.

“I wasn't real happy to begin with when my dad decided to enter the political arena, but we've been able to separate that from our relationship as father-daughter,” Madden said. “At first, maybe we talked politics but we soon realized everyone else eventually left the table but us.”

Madden signed a four-year contract with Chilton County, and she'll stay there during the week. But she'll always consider Franklin County as home.

“This is my home," she said. "Being away from my family will be a challenge. Another challenge is leaving the girls and staff here. They're like family to me. I'm not running from anything here. I have a great job and work with some wonderful people. I have great relationships with the department heads and elected officials. It's just an opportunity I felt I couldn't pass by, and it's a good time in my life and career to do this."

Madden's tenure in Franklin County saw her work for four probate judges: Larry Jackson, Hal Kirby, Mike Green and Moore.

“One thing I learned early in this position is you can't be political," Madden said. "You have to maintain neutrality and keep your political views to yourself. I always tell the girls our jobs are the same, and it doesn't matter who is in elected office. I always separated work from politics. I respect all of the political officials I've worked for and with. I've worked with some great people.

“Judge Moore was the chairman who appointed me to county administrator. I've enjoyed working with him. He's very thorough, and you never have to worry if we're doing something we shouldn't be. I appreciate his support and the opportunity he's given me."

During her interview process with Chilton County, Madden was up front about her close family relationship and her desire to watch as many of her daughter's college basketball games as possible.

“They included that in the email they sent to me offering the job," she said. "I sat down with the kids and let them read that, and it gave them peace of mind. The kids have been so supportive and encouraging about this. That made it easier. It's difficult for Jeff as well. His wife and daughter are moving out within a few days of each other, so he and Kody will hold down the fort.”

Madden knows her last day working in Franklin County won't be easy, but she believes she made the best decision for her family.

“Definitely, what I”ll miss most are the relationships I've built here," she said. "I'm only going to be one phone call away, and they'll only be a phone call away too. I know when I leave here things will be fine because I'm leaving this office in very capable hands."

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