County manager field is down to five


Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 5:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 5:19 p.m.

The County Commission on Friday narrowed the field of some 60 applicants for county manager down to five.

The candidates who will receive invitations for a public meet and greet and in-person interviews next week are:

-- James Bourey. Bourey has some 35 years of experience in local government administration. Some of his past posts include city manager in Greenville, S.C; county administrator in Hennepin County, Minn., and senior assistant county administrator in Hillsborough County. He is currently director of corporate development at Elliot Davis, an accounting and consulting firm in Greenville.

-- Kenneth Griffin. From 1993-2006, Griffin served as the executive director of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, which provides services such as public water supply, land and natural resource management, law enforcement and recreation in the Jackson, Miss., area. Griffin's other experience includes serving as an assistant county administrator in Hillsborough County. He currently works in Tampa as an engineer in the private sector.

-- David Jones. Jones is currently the county administrator in Polk County, Iowa, home to the city of Des Moines. His previous experience includes serving as county administrator of Tazewell County, Ill.

-- Charles Oliver. Oliver, who goes by Randy Oliver, has formerly served as the county administrator in Escambia County; city manager of Surprise, Ariz.; city manager of Peoria, Ill., and city manager of Greenville, S.C. He is currently the CEO of Oliver & Associates in Pensacola.

-- Stockton Whitten. Whitten has worked for Brevard County since 1994, where he currently serves as deputy county manager. A University of Florida graduate, he was an intern for Alachua County in 1990.

Commissioners also named former Sarasota City Manager Robert Bartolotta as an alternate if any of the final five drops out of consideration.

After reviewing resumes during the morning Friday, the process of culling down the field went quickly and smoothly during the afternoon. On a first round of balloting, all five county commissioners had Bourey, Griffin, Jones and Whitten on their list of candidates to interview. They then chose unanimously to invite Oliver over Bartolotta on a subsequent vote.

Each candidate on the County Commission's short list was also recommended by Renee Narloch, a consultant and recruiter with Bob Murray & Associates, the firm the county hired to assist with the search.

The company's estimated fee is $16,500, plus some $7,500 for expenses. Those costs do not include the travel expenses the county will incur for the candidates who travel to Gainesville.

Narloch and Commission Chair Mike Byerly both noted that some of the candidates being considered will have past professional experiences that include termination or resignation under pressure.

"Almost all of them has something on their record that raises some eyebrows," Byerly said.

But Byerly said he felt some of that is the "occupational hazard" that goes with being a city or county manager.

Narloch noted that a political shift in a board majority after an election often spells the end for some managers.

In Greenville, Bourey resigned under pressure in 2010 after a significant change in the makeup of the City Council during his six-year tenure, according to the Greenville Journal.

In another area of South Carolina, the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority is fighting a records request for the termination letter detailing Griffin's dismissal as general manager in January of this year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

In March 2010, the City Council in Surprise, Ariz., voted 4-3 to terminate Oliver, ending a less than two-year stint in a city hit hard by the recession and budget cuts, according to the Arizona Republic.

In Sarasota, Bartolotta resigned under pressure in January 2012 amid a criminal investigation into alleged computer fraud and erased emails on the city server, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In November 2012, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended its investigation, saying it found no probable cause of criminal behavior, the paper subsequently reported.

Lack of diversity in the candidate pool was also a concern expressed Friday. All five candidates invited for interviews are men. Whitten, an African-American, is the only minority.

When Commissioner Charles S. "Chuck" Chestnut IV asked about the lack of women in the pool, Narloch said she actively recruited women but, in a male-dominated field, there was no interest from female applicants she felt were sufficiently qualified.

Commissioners are expected to conduct individual interviews with each candidate Thursday before a public meet and greet scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. at the Senior Recreation Center, 5701 NW 34th St. On May 17, the full County Commission will interview the candidates at a public meeting.

The commission is expected to narrow the list to three finalists at the May 21 meeting.

After a tenure of more than a decade, County Manager Randall Reid departed to take the same position with Sarasota County in January 2012. Rick Drummond has served as acting manager since then.

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