Editorial: Choosing leadership intelligently

Aug. 09, 2014 @ 11:58 PM

With nearly six months available, Vance County commissioners have ample time to find our next county manager. Jerry Ayscue has set a retirement date in January.

Ayscue has been at the helm since Nov. 1, 1984. That’s a few presidential administrations, several commissioners and scores of Vance County projects and directives ago. We’re still the proud home of Kerr Lake and a wonderful place to live but much has changed since then.

Commissioners have a tremendous challenge ahead of them. Our poverty status, changing landscape of education and stalled growth economically will impact the pool of candidates from which to choose a successor.

We believe commissioners should be seeing more than the resume qualifications or status-building elements of a candidate’s background. There’s a great deal to be said for finding what our neighbors or friends would call “good people.” Not every manager will be a good fit in every county, and a number of variables go into a successful equation.

First and foremost, we know commissioners understand they’re not getting another Jerry Ayscue. His temperament for handling feisty politicians is admirable. His skill set for executing his duties is wide and has proven advantageous for three decades.

Our next county manager, however, will have a unique personality, impressive qualifications and will grow relationships with both current and future commissioners. It will be new and different, yet still may hold some characteristics and qualities to which we’ve grown accustomed.

The new manager will be professional, needs creativity and will earn the trust of the public. Mutual respect and confidence between commissioners and the manager will best serve all of us.

Selfish human nature is to resist changes we’d rather not be forced to deal with in favor of the status quo. But when a man has given a lifetime of public service, we are right to take a deep breath, thank him for his work and see the positive of opportunity for both he and us.

If commissioners get it right when selecting, we might not have to cross this bridge for another 30 years.