Former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing turned in his resignation on Thursday, Dec. 17, and many county employees and department heads were upset by the news.
“It’s sad day for Guilford County,” said County Commissioner Justin Conrad Thursday, reflecting a sentiment shared by many in the county’s government.
Lawing was well liked by the employees, and, while he is moving on, he will leave quite a legacy from the nearly eight years that he led the county.
Lawing, who was hired by a Republican-majority board in 2013, turned in his resignation just a couple of weeks after the board became a Democratic-majority board led by Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston.
Alston clearly has his issues with Lawing – prompting the resignation – but there are many positive changes that Lawing brought to the county during his time at the helm.
Lawing was, for instance, was highly focused on economic development and was a driving force behind the creation of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance – a group formed in 2015 that brings Guilford County and the cities of Greensboro and High Point to the table to jointly work on attracting new business to Guilford County.
Lawing oversaw a good deal of economic development in Brunswick County on North Carolina’s coast when he was manager there before being hired away by Guilford County. In fact, one of the main reasons the Board of Commissioners hired him seven years ago, was that Brunswick County had seen a good deal of economic growth in the years Lawing was manager.
Lawing also got a lot of respect for being frugal. He oversaw seven years of Guilford County budgets with no property tax increases – yet, during his tenure, the county gave more money to the school system every year and completed or began a number of very large county projects – such as opening two Family Justice Centers and beginning work on a new animal shelter, a new Sheriff’s Department’s headquarters and a new Emergency Services vehicle maintenance center.
Perhaps Lawing’s biggest accomplishment was restoring professionalism and integrity to Guilford County government. He took over a previously scandal-ridden government with leadership that was under investigation by the FBI and IRS; and Lawing, who is as straight an arrow as there is, was just what the county needed at the time.