County appoints new administrator
YATES COUNTY (8/10/16)--The Yates County Legislature appointed Robert Lawton of Santa Rosa, California, as the new county administrator during their regular session Monday, Aug. 8. This comes after months of evaluating the Yates County government and searching for a replacement for the former long time County Administrator Sarah Purdy. Lawton will officially assume his duties Sept. 6.
"I grew up in a part of New York State that is very much like Penn Yan," Lawton said. "I have got a high comfort level with the lifestyle here and I really value and appreciate that. Yates County is blessed with a great group of department heads and staff who are working hard every day to do things better and better. To be able to support them in that would be a real privilege."
Lawton most recently served as deputy county administrator in Sonoma County, California. Prior to that he was county manager in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania for several years. He had previous experience at counties in New York, California and Wisconsin.
"I have worked in other places, I've been in New York and other states, and I just think the perspective I will be able to bring to this job will be valuable to the legislators and department heads," Lawton said.
He received his B.A. at SUNY New Paltz and his M.A. at the University of Iowa. In addition, he is certified with several nationwide executive credentials. Lawton is active in the National Association of Counties and the International City/County Managers Association.
"Once I start in September, one of the most important things I can do is visit with department heads, stakeholders in the community, and certainly with members of the legislature to find out what their expectations are for the county and the staff and the administrator over the next six months to a year to form a basis for a work plan," Lawton said. "I think it is important to listen first and act later."
Lawton was selected from three finalists who were interviewed in mid-July. Although Lawton took his seat in the administrators chair duringMonday's meeting, he will officially begin Sept. 6. His annual salary will be $100,000 in addition to county benefits. Lawton will be moving to Yates County in the upcoming weeks and settling in Himrod in the town of Milo where he has purchased a home.
Lawton said he appreciates the division of the responsibility from having the treasurer function as the budget officer, as it allows the administrator to look more closely at programs and activities. He added it is a great chance for his office to work together with the treasurer to produce a budget that meets all the fiscal requirements, but is also an opportunity for departments and county staff to fully present their thoughts to the legislature and public. Lawton said he has already begun looking at the different documents and data about Yates County to get a better understanding about the way Yates operates.
"On behalf of the Yates County Legislature I would like to formally thank the County Administrator Taskforce for tirelessly working to evaluate our government and fill the position," Legislative Chairman Dr. Timothy Dennis stated. "Taskforce members consisted of County Attorney Scott Falvey, Public Health Director Deb Minor, Treasurer Nonie Flynn, Personnel Officer Kerry Brennan, Legislators James Smith, James Multer, Mark Morris and Doug Paddock. I would especially like to thank Paddock who chaired the committee and worked countless hours getting us to this point. In addition, the Yates County Legislature and management team welcome Mr. Lawton and look forward to working with him."