Council appoints Rohr as new City Attorney for Lenoir

LENOIR, NC (February 6, 2019) — The City of Lenoir City Council appointed Councilman T.J. Rohr as the new city attorney Tuesday night, Feb. 5, 2019. Rohr resigned his Council seat following the appointment. He will officially start working as city attorney March 1.

“I am looking forward to it,” Rohr said. “It will be a nice change of pace to help carry out the policy that Council wants, rather than opposing policy.”

Mayor Joe Gibbons said Rohr’s experience as an attorney and Councilman makes him a great fit for the City.

“TJ is a fine lawyer in this community. He has served more than 15 years on Council, so he’s very familiar with the operations of city government and how we do things,” Gibbons said. “Given his experience as an attorney and councilman, I believe he is a great choice to be our next city attorney.”

Rohr was never afraid to differ with Council or express his views about certain programs. He often was the lone “Nay” vote on various issues.

“TJ always kept us on our toes and made sure we considered every side of the issue,” Gibbons said. “I have great respect for him, and I consider him a great friend.”

Councilwoman Crissy Thomas has served on Council with Rohr for the past five years. Thomas agreed with Mayor Gibbons. She said Rohr’s views and opinions have made her more thoughtful about her own.

“I appreciate TJ’s honesty and the diversity of thought he brings to the Council. Most council members would agree that TJ broadened our way of thinking and made the City Council better,” Thomas said. “He understands the law, but most importantly he cares about the people that we serve every day.”

Thomas said she is excited about TJ’s new appointment and is happy he will continue to support the City, although in a different role.

“I wish him continued success,” she said.

Council has two options to deal with the Rohr’s former seat. Council could appoint someone to fill the seat, which could take a couple months. Or, council could leave the seat vacant until the city election this November.

Rohr was born in Ann Arbor MI. He spent about six years of his childhood in Chapel Hill and about 10 years outside of Chicago. He earned his law degree at UNC Chapel Hill before moving to Lenoir in 1994 to work as an associate for Wilson, Palmer, and Lackey. Rohr became partner in 1999 at Wilson, Palmer, Lackey & Rohr, P.A. In 2002, the firm became Wilson, Lackey & Rohr, P.C.

During his career, Rohr has defended thousands of criminal cases in district court. He has represented defendants during felony and misdemeanor jury trials. He has prepared and argued hundreds of motions in both District and Superior Court. He has argued cases before the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court. Rohr has litigated civil matters, domestic issues, real estate deals, and corporate acquisitions.

Rohr’s foray into local government came in 2001. The City annexed Rohr’s property. Rohr ran as a write-in candidate that year with the slogan, “He Knows It’s Your Money.” He lost the 2001 election by 100 votes, but Rohr ran again in 2003 and won. He has served on Council ever since.

Rohr ran for Council because he wanted to oppose economic incentive grants, involuntary annexations, and higher taxes. He said he wanted to bring a “healthy skepticism of the expanding power of government in our daily lives” to the board. During his time on Council, Rohr gained an appreciation for the hard work and dedication of city staff.

“I’m really impressed with the city staff, with how hard they work and how much they care about their jobs,” Rohr said. “I’ve been really impressed with what the city does, although I don’t always agree. When we take on a responsibility, the city takes it seriously and does a good job.”

As Councilman, Rohr was free to express his opinion and vote against issues or projects with which he disagreed. As City attorney, he’ll have a different role.

“I’m going to have to bite my tongue if Council makes a decision I don’t agree with, but it won’t be difficult for me,” Rohr said. “I’m in my 16th year on Council, and I’ve been the loyal opposition for a lot of that time. But I’ve been loyal, and I’ll continue to be loyal. I look forward to being part of the team.”

Rohr and his wife Lisa have been married for 28 years. They have two sons, Benjamin, 23, and Jason, 19. They attend Fairview Presbyterian Church.

In his free time, Rohr enjoys watching movies, running, and reading. He said his top three favorite movies are Seven Samurai, Dr. Strangelove, and Pulp Fiction.