After spending a year and a half and $40,000 on the search, the Escambia County Commission could vote to hire a new administrator Thursday evening.
The five finalists are: Albert Penska, John Weaver, Jack Brown, Ted Lakey, and former Pensacola City Administrator Bill Reynolds. Brown appears to be the favorite.
A sixth candidate, current Interim Administrator Larry Newsome, is being pushed by Commissioners Gene Valentino and Wilson Robertson.
“From the debacles with ECUA (Escambia County Utilities Authority), from the Local Option Sales Tax, taking over the library, taking over the jail, trying to handle economic development,” said Robertson. “You don’t bring someone in, in my opinion, to take over those kinds of projects. He (Newsome) worked on all those.”
But Newsome – who took over the post when the late George Touart retired for health reasons – did not apply for the job. That struck a chord for Commissioner Steven Barry during a highly contentious debate last month.
Favoring one of the five outside candidates was District-4’s Grover Robinson.
“I have preferences for a variety of reasons, different ones from other ones,” said Robinson. “But I don’t see any of them that I would necessarily cut out at this particular point.”
Chairman Lumon May – who appears to hold the swing vote between offering the job to Larry Newsome or one of the finalists -- voiced support for soliciting a certified letter from Waters Consulting that Brown did apply before the deadline. Those results are expected to be announced at today’s meeting.
The Escambia County Commission meets at 5:30 Thursday afternoon at the Ernie Lee Magaha Governmental Complex on Palafox Place.