Surry administrator resigns with 3-2 vote

Published 7:47 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2020

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

SURRY — Surry County Administrator Jonathan Lynn has resigned from the position at the board’s Jan. 2 organizational meeting. 

Assistant County Administrator Melissa Rollins has stepped in as an immediate replacement, according to multiple Surry County  Board of Supervisors’ members.

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Lynn had been in the position for less than a year, officially coming on March 1, and will receive a severance of roughly $60,000, according to Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Michael Drewry. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Lynn declined to comment. 

The Surry Board of Supervisors’ organizational meeting — historically the first meeting of the new year — is intended to select a new chair and vice chair for the year and address other organizational matters. 

The Jan. 2 meeting also marked the seating of two new Board of Supervisors members, Robert L. Elliott Jr. representing the Claremont District and Tim Calhoun, representing the Surry District. 

According to several board members, the Board of Supervisors went into executive “closed” session toward the end of the organizational meeting. 

When the Board came out of the session, a vote was called to accept Lynn’s resignation, and passed 3-2. Among those voting to accept Lynn’s resignation were Elliott, Calhoun, and Drewry, according to Elliott.  

To the surprise of at least two Board of Supervisors members, Elliott was elected by Board members Drewry, Calhoun and himself to become the new chair with a vote of 3-2, initially nominated by Calhoun. Drewry, the former chair, was then elected as the new vice chair. 

According to Carsley District Supervisor Kenneth Holmes, prior to this year, the Board of Supervisors had operated on a semi-rotational basis, between the board members that had expressed interest in being chair. 

In the prior rotation system, a Board of Supervisors member would typically be elected vice chair by the board the year before they would seek the chairman seat, as was the case with Drewry in 2018 and 2019. 

Bacon’s Castle District Supervisor Judy Lyttle — who had been the board’s vice chair in 2019 — said in an interview on Jan. 7 that she had wanted to become the chairman for the Board in 2020. She also said that she’d asked her other Board of Supervisors members if they would vote for her prior to the organizational meeting. 

Lyttle described a brand new board member becoming chairman as “very unorthodox.”

On being elected chairman to the Board of Supervisors during his first term — and his first meeting — as a board member, Elliott said he wasn’t nervous. 

“I believe I have good leadership skills,” he said in an interview on Jan. 7. “I know I have the best interests of the county at heart.”

“This is just evidence of change that citizens wanted in the county,” said Drewry on Elliott becoming chairman. 

In August 2019, a special-called meeting of the Board of Supervisors took place to address Lynn’s performance in the role, coming up on his six-month probationary period. 

Drewry, chairman of the Board of Supervisors at the time, said publicly that Lynn was struggling with personnel matters as county administrator, and the board went into an extended closed session period. 

When they came back out that evening, no vote was called on the matter of Lynn’s employment.