By Michael Campbell News Editor
SUSSEX – County administrator Deborah Davis has officially retired from Sussex County after meeting with the board of supervisors’ chairman, vice-chair, and county attorney Monday morning.
In an interview with Courthouse District supervisor Eric Fly, Davis, who had served in the position for just over two years, was giving the open to resign or retire as Sussex prepares to head in a “different direction,” more oriented with seeking and growing economic development opportunities.
“The county’s decision doesn’t reflect that she did anything wrong,” Fly explained. “We are looking at re-tooling where we’re headed in terms of economic development.”
He added that Davis was a hard worker during the over 20 years she spent working in the county, along with the over two years she served as county administrator.
With Davis’ exit from the county, this now makes two county administrators in two years that have left Sussex after choosing to retire, with former administrator Tom Harris opting to leave in 2014.
According to Fly, Davis’ exit and Harris’ exit were two different situations.
“Tom Harris was a very talented and seasoned county administrator,” the supervisor explained. “What happened with his relationship with the county was that he had a direction he wanted to take the county. The problem he had was that direction was counter to the direction of the board of supervisors and the citizens wanted to take the county in.”
“He didn’t feel like he could support the direction the board of supervisors and the citizens wanted to go, which caused that separation,” Fly remarked.
The longtime supervisor said that Davis was “in-tune” with the vision the board of supervisors and the citizens had, but the county felt a change was needed.
“We felt like we needed to change that direction and we need somebody a little more economic development-oriented,” Fly said. “She was an extremely good administrator and Ms. Davis understood the reason for the change.”
Davis was appointed to serve as administrator in July of 2014.
By Tuesday morning, Davis’ name was removed from the county website, replaced by Deputy County Administrator Vandy Jones, who will serve as interim administrator until the first of the year, according to Fly.
He added when the first of the year arrives, the county would reach out to its partners at the Virginia Association of Counties and take advantage of its “Range Rider” program, which allows for Sussex to tap a pool of retired county administrators and find an individual to serve the county for “six months to a year” while the county conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
A similar process was suggested in 2013 following the termination of Harris during a 2012 meeting at the county administration building. At that time, then board chairman and acting county administrator Rufus Tyler directed administration to gather resumes of Range Rider program members.
In 2012, a VACo representative said that those retired administrators would serve on an interim basis of 30 to 90 days.
“These administrators are high-power and proven,” Fly remarked. “We are hopeful one of these administrators is able to show us a new perspective on things we’re doing.”
In terms of cost to the county, Fly said there should be none, noting that Davis’ salary has already been budgeted and that her salary money would go toward the Range Rider program for the temporary administrator.
Jones will oversee day-to-day operations in the county as leaders prepare to search for a new administrator.
Copyright 2016 by Womack Publications