County board votes 3-2 on new administrator – Supervisors split again

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Panola County’s fractured political environment was widened more Monday with another split vote by the Board of Supervisors – this time in the hiring of a new County Administrator.

In a 3-2 decision, Sara Russo was appointed to fill the administrative role for the county, and serve as the guide for the Board of Supervisors on a weekly basis. The office also plays a major role in the budgeting process each year.

Supervisors Cole Flint, John Thomas, and Chad Weaver voted to retain Russo, and Supervisors Earl Burdette and Fred Butts opposed the move. The hiring ends a contentious month of board deadlock with three candidates all having some level of support from individual supervisors.

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Several board votes have been 3-2 or 4-1 in the past months as the supervisors contend with appointments and hires, and work to satisfy the voters in their districts.

A Batesville resident, Russo emerged as the candidate able to get three votes over the other two finalists – Angela Edwards of Sardis and Morgan Wood of Clarksdale. Edwards has administrative experience as City Clerk in Sardis, and Wood was County Administrator in Coahoma.

Board president Cole Flint said Tuesday he believed that Russo’s impressive resume, coupled with her experience as an attorney, made her the best choice. 

Flint said the county will continue to have help from former Panola County Administrator Kelly McGee on a limited basis through a contract with North Delta Planning and Development District until Russo can fully assume the duties of the office.

Russo worked this school year as a special education teacher in Batesville schools, and should make the transition to the Board of Supervisors and the county courthouse seamlessly.