The Jackson County Commissioners originally agree to narrow the 29 applicants who applied for the county administrator’s position to the top five applicants based on the commissioners’ rankings that they would then call for interviews. A tie forced the number to turn to seven to schedule for interviews.
Tuesday, the commissioners started their interview process at 8 a.m. with Mr. Lyndon Bonner from Ocala being the first one called to interview. Bonner gave a list of his employment history. When asked what his weakness was as an administrator by Dr. Willie Spires, Bonner emphatically said, “Not one, not as an administrator, but as a man that’s different.”
The second applicant interviewed was Marianna resident Rick Pettis. Pettis told the board he appreciated the opportunity to be interviewed and that he was not there because he needed a job, he had a very good job but was there to serve the citizens of Jackson County. He stated he was aware of the obstacles the county faced having attended meetings over the last two years and felt that was to his advantage going in.
The third applicant was Tim Bennett from Madison, Florida. Bennett stated he grew up in Graceville, was born in New Orleans and the son of a Baptist preacher. He graduated from Graceville High School and Chipola College.
The fourth applicant was former school superintendent Steve Benton. Benton said his experience in the school system for 46 years was definitely a plus for him. He managed the school system’s budget for four years, reduced payroll without laying off any teachers, using those teachers and staff who were exiting the system due to drop or retirement.
The fifth applicant was Larry Collins from Saline, Michigan who was interviewed by skype. Collins stated his weakness as an administrator was he tended to push too hard because he was passionate about his job and eager to see his department succeed.
The sixth and final applicant was Cottondale resident Leo “Nic” Harwell. Harwell stated his experience at FDOT and in the private industry, along with being chairman of the board of the Washington County Christian School will aide him in the job as county administrator.
The seventh applicant scheduled was Martin Murphy from Port Richey, Florida did not show for his scheduled appointment and when reached by phone stated he was in Washington and would not be available for interview on Tuesday.
The commissioners are to rate the applicants on a scale of one to ten and turn them in to Human Resources by 3 p.m. today (Thursday). A tally will be made with the recipient receiving the most cumulative points being offered the job. In the place of a tie, the two names will be given back to the commissioners to submit their rankings on the two finalists.