Fire Chief Bailey will succeed May as county's public safety director

Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:42 p.m.

Alachua County did not look far or long for a new public safety director.

Tuesday, the County Commission unanimously approved the promotion of Fire Chief Edwin C. Bailey to public safety director effective Feb. 1.

Bailey, 54, will replace Public Safety Director Will May Jr., 65, who is retiring after more than 34 years with first the city of Gainesville and then Alachua County. County Manager Randall Reid waived the recruiting and search process for a new hire and recommended Bailey's promotion "in an effort to ensure continuity within the department."

"He's been an outstanding public servant within our department and he has the experience and the leadership that will take us through these difficult financial times," Reid said of Bailey. Bailey's annual salary will be $119,000.

Discussing his pending retirement in a recent interview, May said there were others in the department who were ready to lead and it was time to let them "take the reins."

Tuesday, May said those comments referred to Bailey, whom he has known for more than 25 years.

"He has worked very closely with me in the time I've been with the county," May said. "In the last 10 years, he's been my right-hand person. ... He has complete knowledge of all the department does. He knows all the issues, all the constituencies and all the stakeholders in the county."

After more than six years with the Orange Park Fire Department, Bailey was hired by Alachua County in 1980. He rose through the ranks from firefighter to district chief to assistant chief of operations. Since 1998, he has served as the department's deputy director.

"We've got some tough budget times ahead of us but everybody does," Bailey said of the challenges ahead as director. "I look at that as an opportunity ... We have a good team in this department from the firefighters on through the administration."

Contact Christopher Curry 374-5088 or

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