EDITORIAL: Cotton Gets While The Getting's Good
David Cotton made a wise decision when he accepted the manager's position in mountainous Haywood County.
Cotton, Moore County's energetic, likable interim county manager, decided to accept the Haywood offer at a salary level somewhat lower than what he's making here in Moore County. But Haywood County has several attractions for Cotton. Besides being a beautiful area of North Carolina and a tourism haven, it also has several of his family members nearby.
Cotton is too diplomatic to say so, but few people doubt that he had another reason for accepting the Haywood position: the unstable personnel environment in Moore County.
"We're the losers," Chairman David Cummings said when Cotton's letter of resignation was read at the Moore County Board of Commissioners' meeting two weeks ago. Indeed, Moore County is the loser. Cotton has been a dedicated worker, has improved morale among county employees and has been a breath of fresh air to co-workers and taxpayers alike.
Mountain Air Should Be Clearer
The county commissioners cannot be faulted for delaying action on appointment of a full-time manager until the new board takes over in December. That board will have three new members, constituting a new and perhaps quite different majority. There is not time before the changeover to launch a search for a new manager and give it the care and attention it deserves.
Sentiment among some members of the present board has leaned toward hiring Cotton for the full-time position. As assistant to former County Manager Steve Wyatt, Cotton has proved himself to be hard-working and effective, cheerful and forthright.
But Cotton had no way of knowing which way the wind will be blowing once the three new commissioners take office. He had no assurance that the five would agree to his appointment. A decision to hire someone else would not have meant that he would have been without a job, but it does mean his fortunes would have been subject to the man or woman ultimately chosen as manager.
Cotton's last day on the job is Oct. 6. We hope his departure will signal the end to an era of resignation after resignation. In the past four years, the public has observed the departures of several respected county employees in supervisory positions. They have taken early retirement or resigned to accept positions with other government units or in the private sector.
In each case, departing employees have issued polite statements explaining their interest in a new field or a need to spend more time with family or more time fishing. But in most cases it has been clear why the employee was really leaving: to get away from the demoralizing bickering and meddling that some commissioners indulge in. They see a new opportunity for a job in a more cordial, understanding atmosphere and get while the getting is good. Who can blame them?
We wish Cotton well and congratulate him on a job well done and an understandable decision for the happiness of his family and the success of his professional future. At the same time, Moore Countians should insist on a return to an era when county employees are treated as valuable assets, not tools for manipulation by politicians. Until that happens, we may have to keep living with a revolving door.
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