New finance director hired; parks director not approved

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A rather rattled sequence of actions at last week’s County Council meeting allowed one new county department head to be hired and another to be rejected on a tie vote.

Though her name was never on the agenda, and wasn’t announced until after her confirmation, Leslie Martin Lewis was appointed the county’s Director of Finance. She replaces Andrew Mackel, who was dismissed following County Executive Bob Culver’s election.

For the past three years, Lewis has served as the Northampton County finance director, working in the county seat of Eastville, Va.

Lewis is a certified public accountant who graduated from Virginia Tech in 1986 with a bachelor’s in accounting. She becomes Culver’s first official hire within his top administrative ranks.

In a rushed and awkward vote last week that had many audience members confused, Lewis’ hiring was unanimous.

Council President John Cannon later explained that the council attempted to act with discretion so as not to compromise Lewis with her employer.

Lewis, who is from Onancock, has more than 27 years of financial experience in the private and public sector and also has extensive experience in Financial Operations Management.

She will begin her employment with Wicomico County on March 23, according to Michele Campbell Ennis, the county’s director of Human Resources.

Mackel’s last reported salary two years ago was $91,076. Ennis did not provide salary information for Lewis, but said it was within the parameters of both the charter and county budget.

The name of Culver’s candidate for Parks and Recreation director also was not on the agenda, but was later revealed by Councilman Marc Kilmer.

John Terrell, a longtime Parks and Rec employee who retired in recent years, failed to win council approval on a tie vote.

The council voted on Terrell’s candidacy, without even stating his name aloud. The action was taken by voice vote, and it wasn’t immediately clear how the members voted.

Kilmer later reported that Joe Holloway, Larry Dodd and Kilmer himself supported Terrell’s hiring; Cannon, Matt Holloway and Ernie Davis were opposed. Cannon confirmed that voting breakdown.

Councilman John Hall was absent from the meeting.

Terrell served as a member of Culver’s transition team; he was most recently working in the local real estate sales field.

Under Culver’s ability to appoint temporary administration, Terrell had been working for more than two weeks in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism offices in the county’s Youth & Civic Center. His arrival there pre-dated the council’s vote, which had been delayed by snowstorms that postponed a council session.

Cannon said the council had advised Culver to re-advertise for the position.

Under the county charter, the county executive is required to appoint all department heads within six months of the election.

Contact Greg Bassett at gbassett@newszap.com.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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