Caitlin Martin: Landrum City Administrator

Published 12:14 pm Friday, July 25, 2014

“You have to serve the public,” believes Landrum CaitlinMartinCity Administrator, Caitlin Martin Cothran. “If you don’t like serving the public, you’re in the wrong job.”
Cothran, who has held that position for some fifteen months, not only enjoys working with the public she relishes meeting face-to-face those individuals whom her work affects.
Originally from Williamston, S.C. she was about seven when her family moved to Easley, where she attended high school. Her path to public service began formally at Clemson University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in political science. She later earned a master’s in public administration (MPA) from the College of Charleston (S.C.) along with a certificate in planning.
All of these credentials helped get her where she is now but her course was set while still at Clemson, when she interned with then-U.S. Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina. “That made me realize I enjoyed government work, but I wanted to be on a smaller level.”
While Cothran (Then Martin) worked for DeMint, she enjoyed helping constituents, but didn’t get to meet them in person. “I wanted to see the people face to face,” she realized. “I wanted to be on a lower level (of government), where I could interact with the people every day . . . see the actual results of what I was doing.”
The MPA was the vehicle to put her in a job that allowed that personal interaction.
“I’d never even heard of an MPA degree,” she admitted. Once she earned hers and was hired by the City of Tryon as town manager (a position very similar to her current one), she “realized that town manager and master’s of public administration were interrelated.”
After five months as Tryon Town Manager, Cothran was hired to her current position.
As Landrum City Administer, she notes, “I enjoy the people. I see first hand, the results of what I do each day.”
Cothran’s bosses are City Council members and Mayor Robert B. Briggs. She oversees the police chief, streets department supervisor, the city clerk and assistant city clerk, the fire department and ordinance enforcement.
In Landrum, she said, “I’m here so council doesn’t have to be called twenty-four/seven, to make small decisions. They all have (other) jobs.” For assistance with situations involving potential legal issues, Cothran confers with council members of the city attorney.
As city administrator, Cothran knows that “you can never please everyone at the same time.” She also knows that taking matters one day at a time, and making the most of each day is a part of the job. For instance, Cothran noted, streets will always need to be paved, and other improvements must constantly be administered.
“Gratefully,” she continued, Landrum is a great place, a wonderful town. They (the residents) are very accepting and open. They’re more open to new improvements.”
She feels the same about council members and Mayor Briggs. “They’re wonderful. They’re open to new ideas. They’re easy to talk to, to discuss things with.”
But, Cothran emphasized, “This job boils down to management. It’s about the employees. If you don’t have good employees, you don’t have anything.” Landrum City employees, said Cothran, are great to work with. “You can’t ask for better, harder-working employees. We have hard-working, loyal employees. They really care about each other. I couldn’t ask for better people.”
With her experience and her welcoming personality, Cothran said, “I believe that you get more from employees who do it (their jobs) because they care, not because it’s mandatory. I want people to enjoy coming to work.  They do it not because it’s their job but because they enjoy doing it and they care about the city.
When Cothran needs input for making the best decisions or recommendations she has excellent resources. She noted that South Carolina hosts List Serve, where city managers can receive input on how to respond to a given challenge.
“Chances are,” Cothran said, “at least one of those people has had that situation.”
Further, she has two mentors from her days at the College of Charleston, when she interned with the town administrator of Mt. Pleasant (adjacent to Charleston), and the deputy county administrator of Dorchester County (next to Charleston County). “They were great,” Cothran recalled. “I learned a lot from them. They’re still mentors of mine.”
Cothran’s duties include administering the city’s web site and social media. “We had no social media when I got here,” she noted. “Now, the web site is linked with the social media and all of our e-mails.”
Because an individual recently hacked into the city’s web site, the new site is nearly the same as the former one, to make it as easy as possible for residents and others. The new site is
When Cothran is not on the job she enjoys hiking and backpacking (mostly in North Carolina and Tennessee, with her husband Wyatt. “I love the mountains,” said Cothran.  She also enjoys gardening (she is proud of her recent success with okra and herbs), sewing and crocheting.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox