After 26 years, Rockingham County Administrator William O'Brien is stepping down. And now his right hand man will fill his shoes. Joe Paxton has been the Deputy County Administrator for ten years. But as Finance Director and Assistant Administrator, he's been a help to O'Brien for much longer.
"Mr. O'Brien and I have worked together for 25 years. We've seen a lot. The county has accomplished a lot in that time," says Paxton.
In a quarter century, rural Rockingham has seen a lot of sub-urbanization. And Paxton anticipates even more growth. He says his role is to keep that growth smart.
"There's a significant amount of change going on in the county and we see our role as a staff to supply the Board of Supervisors with the sufficient information to make the right decisions," he says.
Voting in Paxton was one "right decision" the Board of Supervisors made unanimously. Chairman Dee Floyd says Paxton's experience will serve the county well.
"I don't think there will be much of a transition period because he's worked with Mr. O'Brien this entire time and I think he'll continue to do just the same good job he's been doing all along," says Floyd.
Paxton will take office January first when O'Brien retires. O'Brien did not attend the meeting Wednesday night and he couldn't be reached for comment. He did tell the Daily News-Record that Paxton will be "an outstanding county administrator."