After a short closed session on Thursday, Dec. 16, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners named long-time Chief Deputy Guilford County Attorney Matt Mason as the new interim county attorney.
Mason, a well-known quantity to the commissioners, will fill the shoes – at least on an interim basis – of Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne, whose 12-year stint in that job will end on New Year’s Eve when the giant ball drops in Times Square.
Assuming no emergency meetings are called, the December 16 county commissioners’ meeting was the last time Payne will guide the board through a meeting. Over the years, when Payne has been unavailable, Mason has often filled in at that role.
Mason has been a key cog in the county’s legal office for years. He’s done a great deal of work with the county’s enhanced forfeiture efforts to collect back taxes, and, in recent years, has worked on Sheriff’s Department issues alongside Guilford County Sheriff’s Attorney Jim Secor.
Mason said he was excited about being named interim county attorney but said there’s a great deal of work to address right away. He said one of the main challenges right off the bat was the host of legal issues related to federal COVID-19 relief money. Over the last year and nine months, Guilford County’s legal staff has put in a lot of time figuring out the often hazy details as to exactly how those millions and millions of relief dollars can be spent legally.
Mason, who’s worked as an attorney with Guilford County for 15 years, attended Guilford College before moving on to the University of Virginia School of Law.
When the board unanimously named Mason interim attorney, it also increased his pay 10 percent. For years, that has been the customary hike in pay that the board has awarded those who are named to interim director jobs.
Mason is an avid bicyclist and one thing that many people don’t know about him is that in his younger years he was a tennis star who won city and state competitions. At one point, Mason and his tennis partner played against very young John Isner – likely 12 or 13 years old at the time – and another world-class player. Mason and his doubles partner defeated the dynamic tennis duo.