The firm hired to find a new Sarasota County administrator began mailing brochures this week to clients it has identified as meeting the qualifications for the new Sarasota County administrator.
The action followed the County Commission’s setting a November schedule for candidates to come to the city.
Last week, the County Commission voted 4-1 to close the application deadline Oct. 21. According to the schedule Interim Administrator Terry Lewis has created, the commissioners should receive a list of the top 15 candidates Nov. 2. During the Nov. 8 County Commission meeting, the board will narrow the group to about five finalists, who will come to Sarasota Nov. 14 and 15 for individual interviews with the commissioners and meetings with the public.
The commission could choose to extend an offer to a candidate on Nov. 15.
Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson said she was concerned the timeline was too compressed, especially in terms of candidates applying for the position.
“I thought we should add a week or two,” she said.
However, other commissioners agreed that, given the use of the Web and email, the Oct. 21 date should allow sufficient time for interested parties to contact The Mercer Group, the firm the county hired to conduct the search for the new administrator.
John T. Maxwell of The Mercer Group, who conducted five focus groups in the county last month to determine the qualifications the public wanted in the new administrator, said the position went up on the firm’s website last week.
“We are in the process of actively recruiting people,” he said.
Maxwell plans to visit Sarasota again next month to assist with the public meetings for the finalists, he added.
“We’re still working out the exact locations,” Lewis said, but the meetings will be in the evenings to encourage citizen participation.
At least one meeting will be in North County, he said, and at least one will be in South County.
If the new administrator is selected Nov. 15, the board would enter into contract negotiations that would take at least five days.
The earliest he said he felt the new administrator would be on board would be the end of December, given that the timetable falls so close to Thanksgiving, with Christmas close behind.
Lewis’ current contract ends Dec. 14. However, he indicated he would stay until the permanent administrator begins work.
“If the board wants me to stay till the new person starts, I’ll work at the will of the board,” he said.
Lewis won’t replace Bullock
Interim Sarasota County Administrator Terry Lewis said he had no plans to appoint a replacement for Deputy County Administrator Dave Bullock, who was hired Monday night as interim Longboat Key town manager.
“I certainly wouldn’t make a permanent appointment,” Lewis said. “Let the new (county administrator) sort through (the process.”
This summer, Lewis promoted Bill Little to serve as a second deputy county administrator. Little oversees Community Services.
As the longtime director of Health and Human Services through the county Health Department, Little is well connected.
“(He) knows everybody,” Lewis said. “He is incredibly well-respected.”
Little also is well versed in budgets and county operating systems, Lewis said. “He’s a real good bridge for the new administrator coming in.”