Candidates for Escambia County Administrator are in Pensacola this week for a series of meetings and interviews.
The selection process with the five finalists were re-scheduled from late January, when a rare winter storm hit the Pensacola area. In all, 20 applicants were submitted to a local search committee by the Dallas-based firm Waters Consulting.
Committee Chairman Dave Pavlock says nothing really jumped out from the collected resumes, as they worked to determine the best candidates for the job.
“We had looked at giving some preference to people that have been in Florida, because of the complexity of the system of interfacing with state government,” said Pavlock. “But I think there were 2-3 of them from out of state.”
Two, to be exact – Albert Penska from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and John Weaver from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. The other three are Floridians: Jack Brown from Perry, Ted Lakey from Graceville, and former Pensacola City Administrator Bill Reynolds.
Reynolds making the final cut no doubt has raised some eyebrows. He was fired by Mayor Ashton Hayward last July, after being charged with non-criminal mishandling of public records. Reynolds fought the charge and was cleared in September.
The County Commission will begin quizzing the candidates on Thursday. The order of appearance is in alphabetical order: Brown, Lakey, Penska, Reynolds, and Weaver, beginning at 1:15.
Another commission meeting is set for Friday morning to decide the winner. But that may not be necessary, given the number of available options. Those include making a decision immediately after the final interview, and leaving Interim Administrator Larry Newsome on the job through the upcoming budget process.
After that, a new search could begin.