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Spotsy supervisors appoint conservative delegate to deputy county administrator job
Date published: 12/12/2012
Opal Stroup, vice chairwoman of the Spotsylvania Democratic Committee, said she didn't agree with the selection of Cole. "If you look at some of the legislation he's proposed, he has a very ideologically conservative agenda," she said. "I think the [deputy] county administrator should be at least somewhat independent of that."
She added: "They have a job to do--to help run the county. Not to help enforce an agenda."
Cole noted that it's not unprecedented for a state legislator to work in local government. Former Democratic state Sen. Edd Houck, for instance, was an administrator for Fredericksburg city schools.
Cole said the timing of the job opening was perfect. He was laid off as a project manager for Northrop Grumman in September after 27 years with the federal contractor. Cole currently works for another government contractor.
He said he doesn't think his past donations to county supervisors--which he said he made strictly because he supported them--will be an issue. "Something like this was not even a glimmer in anybody's mind" when he made the donations, he said. "There's no way for them to know back then that this was going to happen."
The political action committee Cole for Delegate donated $200 to Heidig's campaign in 2011 and $300 to McLaughlin's bid for local office, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Though Trampe said he received money from Cole for his 2011 campaign, the project did not have an online record of that donation, possibly because it was less than $100.
The county received 104 applications for the opening to replace Ernie Pennington, who retired as deputy county administrator at the end of October.
In the past, County Administrator Doug Barnes--who has worked for the county for 35 years--would have chosen his deputy. But supervisors in October voted to expand their hiring authority and appoint the deputy county administrator, the deputy county attorney and all department heads. Pitts and Gary Skinner voted against the new hiring powers. Pitts called it micromanagement.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402