By Paul Gable
The application period for a new, permanent county administrator closed yesterday while council member Johnny Vaught continued his attempts to hijack the entire process in favor of interim administrator Steve Gosnell.
As recently as Tuesday, Vaught was maintaining that he had the votes of 9 – 10 council members to appoint Gosnell to the permanent position. This is before all applications were in, before the qualifications of any of the applicants were assessed and before any interviews were conducted to determine who might be the best person to lead the administration of Horry County Government going forward.
After former administrator Chris Eldridge and county attorney Arrigo Carotti failed in their attempt to discredit incoming chairman Johnny Gardner and it became obvious Eldridge had to go, Gosnell said at that time he didn’t even want the administrator job on an interim basis.
Ultimately, after Eldridge was separated from his county employment, Gosnell did accept the interim job but, with the provision he could return to his job as Infrastructure and Regulation Division head.
When the application process for the permanent position opened, Gosnell said he did not know that he would even apply.
Still, Vaught pursued his personal agenda to keep Gosnell in place. But, Vaught’s personal agenda is not what the county needs at this time.
Gosnell is a nice man and has been a good county engineer. However, with only two years to go until retirement and having served in the senior staff of the failed Eldridge administration, he is not what is needed for the county to move forward to realize its potential.
One of the conditions Gosnell stated in taking the interim administrator job was that he would not make changes and would not fire anyone.
Eldridge is gone, but that doesn’t solve the problems with the administration of the county over at least the last four years. Four or five additional senior staff members have to be replaced for this county to move forward, headlined by Eldridge’s co-conspirator Carotti.
In electing Gardner, the voters of Horry County signaled their desire for change in the direction of county government.
So why the big push by Vaught to avoid change? It must be pointed out that Vaught was heavily out on the campaign trail speaking on behalf of the reelection of former chairman Mark Lazarus.
It appears Vaught is not interested in change and he has some support among the Deep Six to push this agenda. You can go on social media and see Vaught is a regular attendee of events sponsored by DDC Engineers and its president Mike Wooten.
Gosnell was an employee of DDC before moving to county government. With Gosnell as administrator and Vaught and at least some of the Deep Six attempting to work council, we can expect continued mass rezonings for development without worries about infrastructure or public safety personnel to serve new development and continued push for the I-73 project at the expense of county taxpayers.
As an example, with Gosnell in place as interim administrator, sources tell me the Bear Claw rezoning, which was defeated last fall, will be coming back to council for new consideration with DDC again the agent for the property owner.
The push for Gosnell really comes down to preference for special interests over the welfare of county citizens.
I believe the new administrator should have local knowledge and experience as well as experience in government, but should not be a current member of the county senior staff.
The new administrator should have the interests of county employees and county citizens foremost on his or her agenda and no ties to the special interests who have ruled this county for far too long.
Five members of county council, Danny Hardee, Dennis DiSabato, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftus and Paul Prince, will be up for reelection next year. How they vote on the Gosnell question should go a long way in helping those voters interested in change in the county decide how to vote in their respective primaries.
Grand Strand Daily does not have any specific candidate in mind to support or endorse, but those with what I consider to be the right qualifications to do the right job for the entire county, its employees and citizens will inevitably get a kind word.