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Administrator Vote on Hold -- Again

Escambia County

The Escambia County Commission Thursday once again pushed back a vote on the hiring of a new county administrator. The latest inaction comes after 18 months and spending $40,000 on the search process.

For the want of a chairman, the opportunity was lost. Lumon May was out of town and traveling back to Pensacola on Thursday. He did not make it back in time for the meeting, which kicked off at 5:30 p-m.

Robertson reiterated his support for Interim Administrator Larry Newsome – who is not among the five finalists for the job.  After that failed to gain traction, Robertson pitched a “Plan-B.”

“I move that we go ahead and just start the process all over again,” said Robertson. “We don’t need a consultant. The names that we were brought, I think, we could have found ourselves. If we’re going to keep having this hoopla for another 18 months, I’d just as soon throw it out and have people re-apply.”

Robertson’s proposal failed on a 2-2 deadlock. Given that no vote on a new administrator would be held, the discussion turned to just when to re-schedule. The next regular commission meeting is April 29th; but commissioner Grover Robinson noted that they’ll meet in special session on April 10th.

Acting chairman Steven Barry says Chairman Lumon May has indicated he would be present for the special meeting – which deals with an interlocal agreement with the City of Gulf Breeze.

The Commission then voted 4-0 to move the administrator vote to April 10th.

Jack Brown appears to be the favorite among the finalists gleaned from the applicant pool of about 20 submitted by a Dallas-based consulting firm. The other four are Albert Penska, John Weaver, Ted Lakey, and former Pensacola City Administrator Bill Reynolds.

When Lumon May returns and takes back the gavel next week, he could find Gene Valentino and Wilson Robertson favoring Larry Newsom, and Grover Robinson and Steven Barry wanting one of the five finalists.  That would make him the swing vote.