Top 5 candidates for county administrator named
By Carrie A. Mizell
Five candidates were selected on Monday from a pool of 21 applicants, all seeking the Gilchrist County administrator’s position.
After reviewing the applications, each county commissioner turned in his/her top five choices for the job. Gilchrist County Clerk Joe Gilliam then calculated the votes and named the top three candidates: Timothy R. Bennett, Kent A. Cichon, and Bobby Crosby.
Each county commissioner was then given the opportunity to suggest a wild card candidate who will also be called back for an interview. Commissioner D. Ray Harrison, Jr. chose Gilchrist County resident Jerry Driggers, and Commissioner Tommy Langford selected Andrew T. DeCandis of Jacksonville. County Commissioners Kenrick Thomas, Sharon Langford and Randy Durden did not select wild card candidates from the pool of applications.
Timothy R. Bennett, who is currently county administrator for Allendale County, South Carolina, was the top applicant for the job. Bennett garnered 18 points from the county commissioners. After serving 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, Bennett worked as workforce consultant and public information officer before moving up to deputy and assistant town manager for the town of Bluffton, South Carolina.
In his application, Bennett stated that he is, “A county administrator who produces major results despite diminishing budgets and staff reductions and who finds solutions where solutions are difficult to find.”
His experience includes expertise in budget cutting, identifying alternate sources of revenue, staff reductions/doing less with more, partnerships with area organizations, capital improvements programs, customer assistance to citizens and chamber of commerce tourism.
Bennett and his wife grew up in Florida and attended the University of Florida and Florida State University. They both consider Florida home and would like to return to the Sunshine State.
Kent A. Cichon and Bobby Crosby each received 12 points from the county commissioners.
Cichon has18 years of management experience to offer. In his current position as budget supervisor for Alachua County, Cichon supervises a professional budget staff with the development of a $218 million fiscal budget.
Prior to taking the position with Alachua County, Cichon worked as city manager for the City of Jasper for three years.
In his application, Cichon stated, “I have a strong knowledge of Florida communities, possess 10 years of Florida county experience and hold a Masters degree in public administration and seven years of growth management experience.”
A resident of Gilchrist County for 24 years, Crosby has extensive knowledge of what it takes to own and manage a business. He has worked in the sawmill business in Union County for 19 years.
In his application, Crosby stated, “My duties and responsibilities take on a wide range of activities such as preparing and performing within budgets, managing job and employee production, coordinating multiple projects and working with numerous people simultaneously, as well as controlling inventories and accounting.
Crosby said in his application that the Lord’s help and guidance have helped him continue production and stay afloat despite the tough economic times the country has faced over the last few years.
“The task of even remaining open for business has proven to be a challenge,” Crosby stated. “Knowing how to work from an ever-changing budget and being successful, I feel I have a lot to offer as a county administrator.”
Wild card candidates who will be called in for interviews are Jerry Driggers, who has 30 years of management experience to offer, and Andrew T. DeCandis, who currently works as senior director of planning and governmental relations for Orange County Public Schools.
All five candidates will be invited to the November 21 meeting of the Gilchrist County commissioners for an interview.
After the short interviews, the commissioners will rank the interviewees in descending order from highest to lowest.
The top three will then be invited to attend the December 5 meeting for a final interview and meet and greet with the public.