SNOW HILL – After nearly 40 years of practicing law in Worcester County, first in private practice and more recently for Worcester County, Sonny Bloxom will retire at the end of the year.
“There comes a time when it’s time for the younger generation to step up and take over,” Bloxom said.
The Pocomoke lawyer, who has served as the county attorney for the past eight years, plans to move with his wife to Florida after Christmas. His last day as a Worcester County employee will be Dec. 18.
“I’ve just come to the point in my life I want to retire and do some things I want to do,” Bloxom said. “I want to travel while I have my health.”
A familiar face at the dais in the county government building, as he was seated there as a county commissioner long before he was hired as county attorney, Bloxom will be missed by Worcester County’s employees and its commissioners.
“We’re sad he’s decided to retire but we’re happy for him,” Commissioner Bud Church said.
Church said he first got to know Bloxom when the attorney represented the school board, of which Church was then a member. They then worked together as county commissioners. When longtime Worcester County attorney Ed Hammond retired, Church said he knew Bloxom was the perfect person to replace him.
“Sonny is a very unique individual,” Church said. “He takes his job seriously but doesn’t take himself too seriously and that’s hard to do.”
Bloxom, a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, began his law career in Pocomoke in the 1970s. During more than three decades as a general practice lawyer, he represented clients in everything from bankruptcy to criminal matters. He spent many years as the attorney for Pocomoke City before deciding to seek election at the county level. At the time, he did not like the way he saw the county’s leaders acting.
“I wasn’t happy with what I perceived to be the good old boys system,” he said. “It looked like if you knew somebody you could get things from government. I didn’t think that was fair.”
Whether that was actually the case, Bloxom never truly found out, because when he was elected in 1990 all but one of his fellow commissioners were, like himself, new to the job. Nevertheless, Bloxom believes they set the county on the right path.
“I think we did change the county,” he said. “Because then everybody had a fair shake. You had as much voice as anybody else.”
Bloxom served as a commissioner for five years before losing an election. He was re-elected, however, in 1998 and served until 2006. When Hammond suggested Bloxom take over for him in late 2007, Bloxom took some time to think about it. He soon decided it would be the perfect way for him to continue his involvement with county government.
“I thought this was an opportunity to get back into county government but in a different way, as someone who helps the decision makers,” Bloxom said.
He said it was a way for him to give further service to the county.
“Quite frankly there was no other attorney in the county who had the government experience I had,” he said.
Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs, said when Bloxom took the position he was described as the only one who could replace Hammond.
“While he didn’t offer wild and fantastic tales at the start of the conversation like Ed did, he has entertained and educated many with his fine wit when the situation arose,” Mitchell said. “How could a man run with the bulls in Pamplona and not have anything meaningful to say about life and the characters he has encountered along the way? He is a true gentleman and I wish him well in a most deserved retirement.”
During his time as county attorney, Bloxom has worked on a myriad of issues, ranging from wastewater to liquor control. In a day’s time, he might handle a contract renewal, a water and sewer agreement and an issue at the Worcester County Jail.
“It’s something different every day,” he said. “There’s a wide variety of issues you get to face. Some come easy and some I have to do research on.”
Harold Higgins, the county’s chief administrative officer, says Bloxom’s knowledge and experience have served the county well.
“Sonny’s practical, professional and no-nonsense approach to the law and its impact on the county will be sincerely missed,” he said.
Many of the county’s department heads, all of whom have worked closely with Bloxom through the years, offered similar comments.
“He is an honest lawyer and was a well-respected county commissioner and member of the community,” said Public Works Director John Tustin. “His knowledge of the history of Worcester County government will truly be missed.”
For his part, Bloxom says what he’ll miss the most about working for Worcester County is his fellow employees. Though he knew many of them when he served as a commissioner, he’s gotten to know them better as the county attorney.
“We have some great folks,” he said. “The people that work for the county try to do the best they can for people.”
According to Church, interviews for Bloxom’s replacement have been conducted and an offer has been made. The county is expected to name the new attorney, who will have time to work with Bloxom before he leaves, in the near future.