Former Luzerne County manager Robert Lawton hired in Yates County, N.Y.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | August 9th, 2016 12:01 am

Former Luzerne County manager Robert Lawton has obtained a position as a top county administrator in the Finger Lakes region of New York, according to published reports.

Lawton, who had served as Luzerne County’s first non-interim manager under its new customized home rule government structure, was hired Monday as the new administrator in Yates County at a salary of $100,000.

Yates County has a population of around 24,600, compared to Luzerne County’s estimated 318,500, and has a large agricultural base, the county’s website says.

“The scenic lakes and extensive wine industry make Yates County a popular tourist destination,” it said.

The county is governed by 14 legislators.

Lawton could not be reached for comment on the new position, which became vacant when former administrator Sarah Purdy left the position after a 21-year tenure, according to reports by the Finger Lakes Daily News and the news site. He was selected from three finalists.

Lawton has worked as deputy county administrator in Sonoma County, Calif., since he resigned from the $110,000-a-year Luzerne County position at the end of 2015.

Lawton’s resignation letter had outlined progress reducing staff, implementing a more competitive purchasing process, obtaining an investment-grade credit rating, posting more information on the county website and undergoing more thorough auditing.

The county also met the goal of home rule supporters to “free their government of political influence and personal preference” during his time at the helm, Lawton had said, describing his time here as a “richly rewarding experience for which I am truly grateful.”

Critics of Lawton have pointed largely to his failure to foresee and communicate problems, including a deficit that grew to $16.9 million during his tenure.

A majority of Luzerne County Council members had privately or publicly concluded it was time for a new manager after four years under Lawton ’s leadership, but Lawton was not terminated and left on his own effective Dec. 31.

Former chief county solicitor C. David Pedri served as acting manager since January and was appointed manager in May.


By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.