There has been a whole lot of drama in Guilford County in recent days.
Drama that has led to a huge transition at the very top of Guilford County government.
However, an official Thursday night, Dec. 17 press release from the county on the resignation of former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing and the hiring of former Guilford County Budget Director Michael Halford as the new manager made it sound like the county had done something about as exciting as appointing a new member to the Board of Equalization and Review.
Here are a few excepts from the official press release that was sent out late on Thursday, Dec. 17: “Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing resigned Thursday, December 17, 2020, giving few details on his sudden departure after nearly 8 years in the manager’s position … Lawing submitted his resignation which was discussed during a closed session of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners held Thursday evening in the Old Guilford County Courthouse … Board Chairman Melvin “Skip” Alston said the resignation was accepted, effective immediately. Alston noted that as a long-standing practice the County rarely shares details on personnel matters in accordance with personnel confidentiality laws. Alston simply added that ‘Marty has been County Manager since 2013 and has carried Guilford County as far as he could during his tenure. I thank him for his service to Guilford County and wish him well in his future endeavors.’”
Needless to say, that dry and warmed over account doesn’t really capture the color of the situation and the way that Thursday’s events frayed the nerves of some county commissioners and deepened divisions among the Republicans and Democrats on the board. Lawing was hired by the Republican commissioners in 2013 and, when the Democrats took charge of Guilford County in last month’s election, plans were made to show Lawing the door.
To give a sense of the actual energy in the air regarding the transition, after the meeting, Commissioner Justin Conrad said that Lawing had been an exceptional manager and it was extremely disturbing to see the way the matter had been handled. Former Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips called it “one of this new board’s worst ever decisions,” and Commissioner Alan Branson said that it was appalling that Alston would cause the departure of Lawing immediately before Christmas.
When asked about the timing of the move, Alston said that Guilford County had a host of important issues it was currently facing and it was necessary that the county go in a new direction and that it get on that path immediately.