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Deputy county attorney Bill Rowling speaks during Tuesday night’s Cobb Board of Commissioners meeting after being named the successor to County Attorney Deborah Dance. Rowling will take over following Dance’s retirement in August.

MARIETTA — With two months left to go before her retirement as Cobb County government’s lead attorney, commissioners unanimously approved Deborah Dance’s successor Tuesday night.

Effective Aug. 25, taking over for Dance will be Bill Rowling, the county’s deputy county attorney. He has notched 18 years of employment with the county attorney’s office. Prior to joining the county, he worked as an assistant solicitor for Cobb County and with the law firm of Holberg and Weaver.

“Upon consultation with Ms. Dance, the county attorney and discussion with some of the individual board members, I think you’ll find that Bill has a wealth of experience, over 30 years of experience in various aspects of the county attorney’s office, including litigation, as well as more recently some of the civil issues, including planning and zoning-related matters,” county manager Rob Hosack said as he presented Rowling to commissioners for consideration.

Rowling’s appointment was based on a succession plan to allow for the transition of duties of the county attorney, according to Hosack and county documents.

“Bill has the confidence, I believe, of not only the county attorney and the staff in the county attorney’s office, but Bill also works very closely with the county manager, myself, the deputy county manager, as well as the agency directors and department heads,” Hosack added.

Commissioners prior to their 5-0 vote naming Rowling to the new role lauded his past efforts in the county attorney’s office, though Commissioner Lisa Cupid expressed a desire to have had the hiring process more open.

“(Bill) has done a stand-up job in keeping us abreast of the issues and making sure that we’re in understanding as we’re voting,” Cupid said. “(But) I think it’s important, when we have positions of a certain level at the county, that we do take steps to make it an open process. I became painfully aware just yesterday of someone who has significant experience in the county who was interested in that position. I realize when we make appointments, even though we have succession planning in place, that there are other people who we may not be including who are working hard to also rise to a certain level of occasion, and when we just make appointments without considering all candidates who could fit in that role, I think we limit even our shining stars.”

Rowling addressed the audience after the vote to express thanks.

“I genuinely appreciate this opportunity to serve as your county attorney and have this position serve the citizens of Cobb County, and to serve the county,” Rowling said. “Having worked with Deborah for the last 18 years, she has done an incredible job with our office, making it what I believe is probably one of the best government law agencies in our state.”

Dance, who was appointed county attorney six years ago following the retirement of Dorothy Bishop, will retire in late August. Before being named to the lead role, Dance held every other attorney position in the office: staff attorney, associate attorney, senior associate attorney and assistant county attorney, the latter of which she held for 12 years.

Rowling’s annual salary as deputy county attorney is $160,000. As of Wednesday, he had not negotiated a contract with the county for his new role, Hosack and county spokesperson Ross Cavitt said. Dance’s annual salary is $186,100.

As the current head of the county’s legal department, Dance oversees six staff members and a team of 10 attorneys plus herself, she said. Her department’s budget for fiscal 2019 is $2,746,722.

In a letter to Cobb commissioners earlier this month, Dance wrote that her plans after retirement entailed returning to private practice “with a continued emphasis on governmental law.”

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