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.
The finalists will attend a reception at 6 p.m. next Wednesday at the Emerald Coast Convention Center hosted by the Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Niceville-Valparaiso and Crestview chambers of commerce. The event is open to the public.
The finalists will have individual interviews with commissioners the morning of March 28, followed by group interviews at a 1 p.m. commission meeting that will be open to the public.
“The reception is an opportunity to see how they network and if they’re comfortable in a crowd and how they interact with the public,” Baenzinger said to commissioners. “In the one-on-ones in the morning, you have a chance to test the chemistry. The afternoon session you get to see how they react in a commission setting.”
Commissioners agreed to decide on an administrator at their April 2 meeting in Crestview.
The new administrator will replace Jim Curry, who is scheduled to retire April 19.
MEET THE FINALISTS
Northwest Florida chambers of commerce groups have scheduled a meet and greet with the administrator finalists It is 6-7:30 p.m. March 27 at Emerald Coast Convention Center, 1250 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach. An introduction to the candidates and light hors d'oeuvres are planned. For details call 244-8191.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Kari Barlow at 850-315-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KariBnwfdn.