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Applicant List Finalized In Santa Rosa Administrator Search


Some familiar names are showing up on a list of candidates wanting to succeed Hunter Walker as Santa Rosa County administrator.

Thirty-eight contenders had submitted applications by last Friday’s deadline, including former Escambia County interim administrator Larry Newsome; Tony Gomillion, the county’s current public services director, and Jonathan Lewis, the former executive officer at NAS Whiting Field.

“The applicants are from various parts of the country. We have quite a few from Florida; from Pennsylvania, Arizona,” said DeVann Cook, the county’s Human Resources Director.

The Santa Rosa County Commission has contracted with the Florida Association of Counties to set up a review panel to come up with a short list of candidates. There’s no set number as yet, but the names of five to seven finalists are expected to be returned to the Commission by around September 1st. 

“They might interview all that are sent, or they might reduce the number down more,” Cook said. “We’re hoping to interview in late September or early October. That’s the time frame we’re working with right now.”

Hunter Walker is scheduled to retire on December 31st, after two decades as Santa Rosa County Administrator. He’ll be 65 years old by then. Commissioner Lane Lynchard says among the requirements for the position are a master’s degree, and at least seven years’ experience in local government.

“Hunter is well-respected by Santa Rosa County employees, residents, and certainly all of the commissioners that have served with him,” said Lynchard.

Walker was hired in October, 1995 as Santa Rosa County’s third administrator.  When he announced his retirement in March, Walker was asked what he would like to see his successor bring to the table.

“Have a good track record as a local government manager,” said Walker. “If I had my druthers, you get a 40- or 45-year-old in here that’s going to be more skilled than I am, in the analytics and the social media, and just public management in leadership.”

Plans now are to have the new administrator on the job by mid-December. The County Commission has the final call.

The salary range for the position is based on qualifications and experience. Hunter Walker currently earns just over $132,000 per year, and has a $500 vehicle allowance.