Two finalists remain for York County manager spot

jzou@heraldonline.comAugust 19, 2013 

The York County Council is preparing for round two of interviews with the remaining finalists for county manager at a meeting Monday night.

Council members have spent the last month weeding through an applicant pool of roughly 40 candidates throughout the U.S. who were provided by a search firm the council hired earlier this year. The position has been vacant since the last manager, Jim Baker, left in January to pursue a higher-paying job in Virginia.

Last week, the council spent over six hours behind closed doors interviewing each of the five finalists before paring the list down to the final two, who are:

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

• Bill Shanahan, current deputy administrator of Augusta, Ga.

Of the five finalists, both Layson and Shanahan were the only candidates with county-level experience, but all finalists had management experience in the Southeast.

Council Chairman Britt Blackwell said that the “right man for the job” will be someone who can juggle an array of large capital projects as well as be a team player who can work closely with the council to set a long-term agenda for economic development.

The outgoing manager, Jim Baker, resigned from the position citing difficulties working with the council to get projects rolling.

The council had originally planned only one round of interviews with finalists, but Blackwell said members felt strongly about two of the finalists and did not want to rush into a decision.

Layson, who boasted over 18 years of experience on the resume he submitted to the county, was a favorite with residents who attended a public meet-and-greet event last week. Residents took note of the fact that Layson had driven through York County’s rural communities of Clover and Sharon, and had a sense of the county’s rural makeup.

Residents also responded favorably to Shanahan, citing his friendliness and personable demeanor. Shanahan’s resume lists two decades of active duty in the U.S. Air Force as well as 16 years of local governing experience.

When it comes to accomplishments, both finalists emphasized fiscal measures and economic development successes.

Layson specifically pointed to the creation of several distribution centers from large national brands such as Kohl’s and SaraLee in Bibb County, and capital projects including a jail expansion, a new fire station and a juvenile justice center.

Shanahan pointed to his ability to wear multiple hats while restructuring Augusta’s public staff, including a reorganization of the fire and human resources departments that resulted in management changes.

Blackwell said both candidates were chosen because of their sense of York County and were ranked highly overall by council members. He added that in the days since announcing the two men as finalists, he’s received positive feedback from those who worked with the finalists and vouched for them.

The council, which meets in York, will host interviews with the finalists after a regularly-scheduled meeting where agenda items related to zoning and other county matters will be discussed.

Jie Jenny Zou•  803-329-4062

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