Haywood county manager Cotton steps down

After four years in its service, the man who has stood at the helm of Haywood County will be moving on in December.

In a Nov. 3 letter to county commissioners, County Manager David Cotton tendered his resignation, effective the next day.

In his letter, he gave no indication of his reasons for leaving the post, occupied by only one other person since the county manager system was adopted by Haywood County. When contacted personally, Cotton also declined to elaborate on his departure.

In his letter, he expressed pride in the work he has done with the county, saying he considered his time in the post “a privilege.”

“It is my sincere hope that when the body of work we have accomplished over these past four years is judged that a clear measure emerges — that we acted with the best interest of Haywood County in mind,” Cotton wrote.

Board Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick wished Cotton well in his departure, but was also tight-lipped on the reasons behind it.

“We appreciate what David’s done for us and wish him well in the future,” Kirkpatrick said. “I know there are many county manager and city jobs that are opening up and I believe he’ll fill one of those adequately and effectively.”

Kirkpatrick said that, while he wasn’t forewarned of Cotton’s imminent exit, it wasn’t an altogether shocking revelation, either.

“We’ve not necessarily been expecting it,” said Kirkpatrick, “and I can’t say that it’s a tremendous surprise. It’s just something that we’re having to deal with at this time.”

The newly-elected board that is scheduled to take office next month will discuss the county’s next move, but Kirkpatrick said they’re in no hurry. In the interim Assistant County Manager Marty Stamey will step up to fill the role, likely doing double duty until a new manager is found.

Stamey isn’t new to the county manager’s post; he filled it for several months last year when Cotton stepped back on a leave of absence. Kirkpatrick said that the board was, at the time, pleased with Stamey’s work as interim and he has faith that Stamey will fill the gap effectively for as long as is necessary.

“I don’t think we will be in an extreme rush,” said Kirkpatrick. “[Stamey] did a great job for us during David’s absence.”

Contractually, Cotton must give the county a 30-day notice, so he is scheduled to stay on board until Dec. 4.

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