Residents meet York County manager finalists

jzou@heraldonline.comAugust 12, 2013 

Dozens of residents from across York County made their way to Rock Hill on Monday night to meet finalists for county manager – a position vacant since January.

Many left wanting to know more.

“We don’t know their views on anything,” said Terry Taylor, 70, of McConnells, after the nearly two-hour reception.

Taylor said she wants a county manager who will be fiscally conservative and hands-off when it comes to government regulation of businesses.

The York County Council invited the public to chat with the five men before it conducts one-on-one closed-door interviews tonight.

Council members will make the final decision on who becomes manager this week or next.

The finalists were pared down from an applicant pool of nearly 40 candidates identified by a search firm the council hired earlier this year.

They hail from across the southern U.S. and come from various city- and county-level backgrounds, but all have worked in municipalities in the Southeast.

“They all have great qualifications,” said County Council Chairman Britt Blackwell, introducing the candidates at the reception at the Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College. “They’re in a vertical climb.”

Each candidate briefly introduced himself to the crowd before breaking off and meeting in smaller groups with residents.

The finalists are:

• Bob Bartolotta, a former city manager of Sarasota, Fla.

• Rick Chaffin, former deputy city manager of McKinney, Texas

• Joe Fivas, town manager of Indian Trail, N.C.

• Steve Layson, chief administrative officer of Bibb County, Ga.

• Bill Shanahan, deputy administrator of Augusta, Ga.

Each candidate emphasized the need for economic development and pointed to the county’s growth as both a potential boon and hurdle. Job creation also was stressed.

“It comes down to an attitude,” Bartolotta said of fostering economic development. “You have to be open for business, and jobs is the name of the game.”

Shanahan echoed a similar sentiment for long-term job creation plans.

The emphasis on jobs was right on point for Rock Hill resident Ann Williamson-Morrison, 68, who is running for a seat on the Rock Hill City Council.

“Bringing jobs in is most important,” she said.

Terrence Jones, 54, was interested in the finalists’ familiarity with the county’s rural populations. Jones, a pastor at Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church in York, wants to see the next manager extend services to underserved areas.

Fort Mill resident Terri Cook, 55, also came to the meeting with specifics in mind. “Give us what we need,” she said of the next manager.

Cook, commander of York County Emergency Response Team, asked each candidate where he stood on volunteer public services.

The county manager position has been vacant since Jim Baker left in January. Assistant county manager Anna Moore has been interim county manager.

“I’m ready to go back to a supporting role,” Moore said.

The ideal candidate, she said, is one who can assist the County Council with strategic planning and manage several projects at a time.

Claudette Shue, 72, of Catawba, said she wished the council had provided written material on the finalists.

“They’re all very good salesmen,” she said, “but I really don’t know their conservative principles.”

The finalists will tour the county today before interviews with the council.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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