ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Board of Commissioners voted six to one to nominate Bryan Land to succeed Rick Sago as county manager Tuesday night.
Land has served as the interim county manager since Sept. 1 following Sago’s resignation. Sago had held the position since 2009.
Land gave his emotional acceptance speech before a full room of the county’s department heads, whom he said he was “thrilled” to continue to work with.
A “local boy,” as he put it, Land comes from a family that has lived in Richmond County for six generations. His close ties to the area, in addition to the role he’s played in seeing through major projects for the county, made his nomination all but guaranteed, according to Board Chairman Ken Robinette, who said that he’s been impressed by Land’s performance in his interim role.
“We know what we’ve got (in Land),” Robinette said. “He’s been involved in every major deal in the county for the last five years.”
Land has worked for the county for many years in various roles, with a background in construction. He was assistant county manager under Sago for two years, and was public works director prior to that.
“He’s got a great vision for the county,” said Public Works Director Jerry Austin, who worked closely with Land for five years.
Land was initially slated to remain in his interim status until Dec. 31, but said that timeline didn’t carry any special significance. Robinette said that making the nomination official gave Land and the county more certainty.
The one dissenting vote came from Commissioner Jimmy Capps, who said that while he supported Land, he disagreed with the manner in which he was selected.
The board never posted that the job of county manager was open, which meant that no one else who may have wanted the job could apply. This was the same manner in which the board selected Sago, who had previously served as assistant county manager and moved into the role of county manager without a public posting of the vacancy.
Capps said he would have preferred that the board “explore all avenues” in selecting a new county manager to make sure they found the best person for the job.
Robinette said nominating anyone else for the position would’ve been a “slap in the face” to Land and the department heads who are so familiar with him. He added that going through a traditional hiring process wouldn’t have netted anyone who was a better fit for Richmond County than Land.
“Why would you go through the process and spend the time and energy and money to come up with the same result?” Robinette said. “You’re not going to find anyone better than Bryan.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.