Selection on Monday

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 18, 2008

Most important’ selection starts Mon.

Last summer, when campaign season was in full swing, most candidates running for supervisor said the most important decision of the new board would be the hiring of a county administrator.
That important decision has now arrived.

Six months after a new board was seated, interviews begin Monday.

Hopefully supervisors are ready to listen carefully, take notes, and keep asking over and over, Is this the person who will best manage the county’s business day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year?

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Already, however, the board has made some serious missteps.

It may have seemed funny at first when the county board received more applications for solid waste manager, a job that wasn’t made public, than for the much-publicized county administrator’s job. But a statewide search for a county administrator produced only 13 people, of which only one – who has now withdrawn – is currently an administrator.

Of the 13 original applicants, only 10 possess at least a bachelor’s degree, a criterion supervisors set early on as a requirement for the demanding job. After the application deadline had passed, one supervisor then suggested allowing the board to interview three applicants who do not have a college degree. All three of them coincidentally are county employees.

A second supervisor did remind the board of its earlier decision, a point that fell on deaf ears. So now two of those three unqualified applicants will take their turn interviewing for a job that supervisors have already said they do not qualify for.

In reality, supervisors will probably lean heavily on the current administrator, David Chandler, to weed through the remaining 13 – no, now it’s down to 10 applicants, or eight if you count those with a degree.

When Chandler was hired as the first county administrator in 1987, he brought a background from his tenure with the State Department of Audit that proved extremely valuable to the county regardless of whether his few detractors are willing to admit it. And even though his salary level and, currently, his contractual pay rate have attracted criticism, it is likely that his bosses have learned that Chandler has been a bargain. The processing of selecting Chandler’s successor has brought to their attention the higher rates of pay for county administrators in other counties.

There is no denying that his absence will be felt in the county boardroom.

And it may likely be Chandler’s recommendation that the supervisors rely on when they pick his successor in coming weeks. He will hopefully prepare that person to deal with five bosses who weeks earlier made a circus of the hiring process that led to the new hiring.

Here’s one final suggestion: supervisors should agree that anyone hired for the administrator post should be elected with a unanimous board vote. Chandler demanded that action when he was hired in 1987, and his successor should, too.