Board selects county administrator finalists; meet and greet planned

okaloosa commission nwfdn
FILE PHOTO | Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM.

Five men from across the South are in the running to be Okaloosa County’s next administrator. The final selection is expected in early April.

County commissioners narrowed a group of nine candidates to five at their meeting this week. The board voted unanimously to interview the following candidates:

  • Rick Chaffin, deputy city manager of McKinney, Texas.
  • Ted Lakey, county manager of Jackson County, Fla.
  • Stephen Layson, chief administrative officer of Bibb County, Ga.
  • Ernie Padgett, county administrator of Manatee County, Fla. He is a former Santa Rosa County administrator.
  • Richard Starts, county administrator of Florence County, S.C.

The board culled the finalists from a pool of more than 100 applicants with help from consultant Colin Baenzinger, whose firm Colin Baenzinger & Associates was hired to conduct a national search.

Baenzinger told commissioners Tuesday that he would notify the five finalists of their selection.

The board will pay to bring the finalists to Fort Walton Beach for a two-day visit next week. Commissioners declined to pay for the candidates’ spouses to travel to the area.

“No, we can’t afford it,” Commissioner Wayne Harris said.

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