Who will be hired as Escambia County Assistant Administrator? A search committee has narrowed down the list to the five finalists.
More than 300 applications were collected for the position, which will involve helping Administrator Jack Brown across a number of departments in serving a county with a population of more than 300,000.
“Depending upon who we select and how we bring this person on, we’ll look at particular assignments that they’ll take off of my plate,” said Brown.
While Escambia County has what Brown calls a “great staff,” there still must be somebody capable of providing oversight, and to take over Brown’s job if necessary.
“I’m looking for somebody that, if something happens to me, I have a wreck or a heart attack or the [County Commission] decides it’s time for me to move on, can pick up the reins and continue to move the county forward,” said Brown.
Two local names are on the short list: former Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander and Matthew Coughlin, the assistant director at Pensacola International Airport.
“James Mallon, who has been a city administrator in numerous places,” said Brown. “Albert Penska, who was on the short list when they were looking for me. And then there’s a county administrator from South Carolina named Jason Ward.”
All five candidates, says Brown, have strong experience in their respective areas, including leadership, managing staff, and forging together a team. And that’s basically what they’re looking for.
“Someone that’s led complex organizations and has experience in working with different staffs, project management, making sure that they can work a problem,” Brown said. “Critical thinking, lay out timelines, and accomplish the business of the public.”
Brown is hoping his new assistant will be hired next month after the candidates undergo checks on their backgrounds, credit and references. When that time comes, the new guy likely will hit the ground running.
“We’ve got some big challenges with the [Escambia County] jail and stormwater,” said Brown. “A lot of different moving parts, and we want to continue to work on behalf of the county. We want to continue to foster with [Pensacola}, ECUA, and our other partners.
“Hopefully we’ll lay out a strategic plan this year.”
Besides Escambia County Administrator Jack Brown, the selection committee is made up of Janice Kilgore with Navy Federal Credit Union; Keith Hoskins at Gulf Power, and ECSO Chief Deputy Chip Simmons – who served as Assistant Administrator from 2015 until last year.