By Yustin Riopko
WAXHAW – Town management’s search goes on for someone to replace former town attorney Chaplin Spencer.
The town thanked Spencer and parted ways May 8 as part of a decision to move away from a contracted partnership with law firm Spencer & Spencer, P.A., and open up a public position for town attorney.
Three months later, the right candidate hasn’t turned up, and Town Manager Greg Ferguson is thinking of making some changes in the search.
“We’re seeing a lot of candidates who have experience in the field of law, but they don’t have the experience in municipal law, and specifically not in North Carolina,” Ferguson told town council at a July 31 meeting. “They might have some experience with the community college, state university system or a hospital system; but it’s different from municipal law. The statutes that apply are different, and the daily practices, like real estate and zoning, are very different than what we were requesting.”
Ferguson said he didn’t think compensation is an issue in recruiting an attorney.
“I don’t think the salary – from what I’ve seen or heard – has come up as a topic of negativity. Now, are there folks who have an opinion about the size of our community and what we can pay, and they don’t voice it? That we don’t know. We’re not getting phone calls to say, ‘What’s the salary gonna be? I don’t know if I want to apply.’”
The town manager said he hopes candidates don’t think of Waxhaw as “too small,” but rather as a growing community with opportunity – an ideal career step for the second or third attorney on staff in a large city.
In the meantime, Waxhaw has been working with Charles Buckley, the town attorney for Matthews.
Buckley delivered a 60-day observation to Waxhaw town council July 24, praising town leaders and staff for their thorough process and respect for each other.
“My observation is that the board knows its role. The staff knows its role, and how they connect,” Buckley told the council. “I don’t see where there’s anybody trying to go beyond their roles. So I find that very refreshing.”