The Dukes County commission voted Wednesday to name their executive administrative assistant as the new county manager.
Martina Thornton, who has held the number two staff position at the county for the past four years, will now negotiate a contract with members of the commission next week.
The vote to offer the job to Mrs. Thornton was unanimous. Two weeks ago the county commission voted to offer the job to New Hampshire attorney Katherine Rogers, but last week Ms. Rogers declined, citing personal health reasons.
“I’m very happy . . . Martina knows the county very well and I’m certain it will be a smooth transition,” county commission chairman Melinda Loberg said after the vote Wednesday night.
Mrs. Thornton, who was present at the meeting, said she, too, was pleased at the outcome. “I know what needs to happen for the county to go in the right direction,” she said. “I want to serve the Island in the best way possible.”
Mrs. Thornton, 37, said her law degree from the University of Prague, her work for the Department of Finance in Prague, work as a paralegal in two law offices in Edgartown, participation in a Cape Area Management Program, and a four-year term as executive assistant have prepared her well for the challenges of the position. She also ran her own business, bookkeeping and preparing taxes for small businesses for several years. She has worked as a treasurer and clerk for Island Fuel since 2007.
“I am well positioned to step up and do a good job,” she said during her public interview with the seven-member elected commission last month. “My knowledge of the operations of the county will help me move the county forward to be a more valuable organization. I will try to come up with new approaches to deal with things. I will not be repeating the same mistakes.”
After spending summers here for a few years, Mrs. Thornton, a native of the Czech Republic, moved to the Island in 2001 to marry her husband. They have two children, both boys. As county government has gradually been taken over by the state in the last few years, Dukes County government has come under scrutiny. “I am going to try to educate anybody who has doubts, because the county does a lot of good work and employs a lot of people who do good work,” she said. “I want to make sure that many people know that and appreciate that.”
Mrs. Thornton said she hopes to change public opinion through education and public relations. “I would like to sit down with those people and go over budget with them, to show where the money goes,” she said. She also called on the county commissioners to step up as well. “Without their support, there’s not much the county manager can do on her own,” she said.
Former county manager Russell Smith resigned his post in May.