County department heads are forced out

CAMBRIDGE ‑ Changes continue in Dorchester County municipal leadership. On Jan. 16, Economic Development Director Jeff Trice was fired. The Dorchester Banner also learned that Emergency Medical Services Director Anna Sierra has resigned.
Planning and Zoning Director Steve Dodd announced his retirement at the County Council’s meeting on Jan. 16. Former County Manager Jeremy Goldman was relieved of his duties at the County Council’s meeting on Dec. 18, the second of the new board after the November elections.

Council members William Nichols (District 2), Jay Newcomb (District 1) and Libby Nagel (District 5) voted in favor of Mr. Goldman’s termination. Members Ricky Travers (District 3) and Lenny Pfeffer (District 4) were opposed.
Mr. Goldman has since accepted a position with Caroline County. Ms. Sierra has also agreed to work for Caroline County.

Details of the vote on Mr. Trice – and its reasons – were not available at press time, because the vote was made in closed session. But Mr. Pfeffer wrote to the Banner regarding the sudden turnover in local leadership, saying, “I am deeply concerned with all of these decisions.”
He said the changes have adversely affected how county employees do their jobs.
“I see department heads walking on eggshells, in fear that they could be the next to be terminated,” Mr. Pfeffer wrote. “I see employee morale at an all-time low.”
The council has not formally accepted Ms. Sierra’s resignation. “With that said, we may be without a director of Emergency Services at some point, but Anna is still working at this time,” Mr. Pfeffer wrote.

“I can confirm that I gave my letter of resignation, proposed effective date March 15, on Tuesday [Jan. 15] before the County Council meeting,” Ms. Sierra told the Banner. “I’m sad to be going, but I think it will be for the best.”
News of the changes brought strong words from local citizens. Thomas Hutchinson wrote to the Banner, “From my perspective, we have gone backwards 20 years in less than two months.”

Mr. Trice spoke to the Banner on Sunday, sharing his reactions to his termination. He said he was called into a meeting on the morning of Jan. 16, when he was told only that his services were no longer required. He said he was not given a specific reason for the move.
“All the department heads are ‘at the pleasure,’” he said. “That’s kind of my situation.”
There had been rumblings since last fall, he said, that changes would be made. “There were a ton of rumors flying around before the election,” Mr. Trice said.
Then in the early hours of Wednesday, he felt certain. “I woke up at 1 o’clock in the morning and said, ‘I’m being fired today,’” he said.
Now, as he looks to other options, he wishes the county the best.
“I hope the progress continues,” Mr. Trice said.

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