ST. LUCIE COUNTY — George Landry, the county public-utilities director, will be the next county administrator.
The County Commission Tuesday selected Landry over four other finalists.
He was the top choice of commissioners Linda Bartz, Jamie Fowler and Larry Leet. Chairwoman Cathy Townsend’s pick was Derek Scrapchansky, town manager of Topsham, Maine. Commissioner Chris Dzadovksy’s top choice was Dale “Doc” Dougherty, city manager of Garden City, Michigan.
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Landry, 50, will succeed Howard Tipton, who stepped down Jan. 13 to become town manager of Longboat Key in Manatee and Sarasota counties. He did not attend Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.
“We have a lot of great candidates, but I’m kind of looking for someone who’s looking for a home,” Fowler said. “(Someone) who’s not looking to use St. Lucie County as a layover or pit stop to the next step up the ladder.”
Would the commission reopen the search?
There was no assurance the commission would even act on the new administrator Tuesday after Townsend, at the 11th hour Friday night, said she wasn’t ready to select any of the finalists. After a three-hour interview process Friday, she proposed reopening the search.
Continuing the search, however, failed to attract support from other commissioners on Tuesday.
Townsend and Dzadovsky praised Landry, a U.S. Army veteran, for the work he’s done for the county. In addition to directing the utilities department, he’s been an interim deputy county administrator since Alphonso Jefferson and Mark Satterlee resigned from those positions, effective Wednesday.
However, Townsend and Dzadovsk also raised concerns about Landry’s lspanck of experience and fear he would burn out — emphasizing that the average tenure of a county administrator is four to seven years.
“I just don’t think he’s ready now,” Townsend said. “And I don’t want to do anything that would compromise him and set him up for failure.”
Dzadovksy said he’s afraid of losing Landry as a county employee if the commission is dissatisfied with his performance as county administrator.
Towsend suggested hiring Scrapchansky so Landry could learn from him and be ready the next time the county has an opening for administrator.
That said, the commission agreed on a compromise: It will offer Landry a one-year contract, rather than the standard two year-contract it’s given past administrators, including Tipton.
Landry would have a performance review after six months and again after a year in his new role. Then the commission would then decide whether to renew his contract or launch a new search for a new administrator.
The commission is expected to approve Landry’s contract Feb. 21, and he would potentially start his new job March 1, according to County Attorney Dan McIntyre.
Promoting Landry from within the county administration follows the example of Port St. Lucie, which promoted Jesus Merejo to city manager Jan. 8. Merejo was chief assistant to the city manager and previously was Utility Department director for 14 years. He will succeeds Russ Blackburn, who retires Feb. 17.
Indian River County is continuing its county administrator search. It is to pick finalists, from among more than 50 applicants, on Feb. 21. The new administrator would succeed Jason Brown, who stepped down Dec. 31.