By Paul Gable
The first phase in finding a replacement for former county administrator Chris Eldridge will be completed next week as applications from candidates must be in by June 5, 2019.
The Deep Six, council members Harold Worley, Tyler Servant, Dennis DiSabato, Gary Loftus, Cam Crawford and Bill Howard, assisted by council member Johnny Vaught, already tried to hijack this process once.
In behind the scenes maneuvering, this group attempted to promote the hiring of interim administrator Steve Gosnell to the administrator job without consideration of any other candidates. When the plot was exposed, several of the plotters backed away quickly.
Voters in the county opted for change in the way the county does business when they elected council chairman Johnny Gardner to replace Mark Lazarus last year.
Since Gardner took office, the Deep Six have attempted to obstruct change to the point of initially blocking the firing of Eldridge after he and county attorney Arrigo Carotti were discredited in their attempt to smear Gardner. That little episode cost county taxpayers approximately $300,000, the cost of paying off Eldridge to get rid of him.
But, that cost will be minimal compared to the cost to taxpayers of blocking a new vision to county administration.
Steve Gosnell has been a good engineer for the county. He has approximately two years to go before hitting the 28 year mark for full retirement. He is not the person to look to for changes in the way county government is run.
Gosnell has been head of the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Division and an assistant administrator for a number of years, once before serving as interim administrator. He has built a working relationship with other members of senior staff and, as such, is not expected to look at what changes are necessary to make county government more effective, more responsive to the needs of citizens and more transparent.
County government does not need, in the administrator position, a two year placeholder looking forward to retirement while keeping many of the failed Eldridge policies and senior staff in place.
Changes must be made. The morale of county employees must be raised. A new look must be taken at how county revenue can best be used to benefit the citizens, not just preferred special interests.
A new administrator with local knowledge and experience is the ideal, but one who will look at county government overall and not be afraid to make changes where necessary.
Replacing Eldridge with a current member of county senior staff will be a disaster regardless of how the Deep Six plus One believe it will benefit them individually.