The York County Council released its list of five finalists on Monday afternoon for the county manager position, which has been vacant since January.
The council hired a Texas-based search firm, The Waters Consulting Group, earlier this year to conduct a search on its behalf for prospective candidates.
The list of five finalists was pared down from a pool of dozens of applicants after the firm did additional background checks.
“I think we have some excellent candidates,” said Britt Blackwell, council chairman. “They have a keen interest in York County.”
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Blackwell said he was pleased with the final pool, adding, “Some don’t have the county experience, but all have managing experience.”
Among them is Bob Bartolotta, who resigned as city manager of Sarasota, Fla., last January amid allegations that he and other top administrators tampered with public records and committed computer fraud, according to the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota.
Blackwell said that while the allegations did draw his attention, the background check provided by the firm showed that the accusations were baseless and didn’t preclude Bartolotta from being named a finalist.
Bartolotta was named as a finalist for county manager positions in various municipalities in Florida earlier this year.
In 2012, the city of Sarasota was embroiled in federal criminal investigations that revealed that thousands of emails had been deleted from city servers, according to the Herald-Tribune.
The investigation was dropped in November and Bartolotta was cleared of wrongdoing.
But Bartolotta left his post, stating that he felt the commission he worked with no longer had confidence in him as manager.
“It all ended up fine, but unfortunately it took about a year to sort out the issues,” Bartolotta said of the fallout from the investigation. “It was time to move on.”
Another county manager front-runner, Rick Chaffin, was one of the finalists named to replace Bartolotta as Sarasota city manager in 2012. But Chaffin abruptly rescinded his Sarasota application, citing professional and personal differences, according to several media.
Chaffin previously served as deputy city manager of McKinney, Texas, a city of 141,000 near Dallas. He held the position for six years, leaving in December 2012 after an administration change.
Chaffin also was named in March a finalist for a county manager position in Okaloosa, Fla., but lost out to a Florida retiree. He said he’s interested in York County’s suburban growth and expansion.
Two administrators from Georgia also made the cut.
Finalist Steve Layson is the chief administrative officer of Bibb County, Ga., a position he has held for eight years.
Layson said he started looking into positions when he learned that his county would be consolidating with another county, which would require him to temporarily resign next year and apply for the job again.
“It was an opportunity for me to look and be choosy,” Layson said. Along with Chaffin, Layson was a finalist for the manager position in Okaloosa, Fla.
Layson said he applied for the York County job because of the opportunities and challenges the area presents for economic growth.
Bill Shanahan, the deputy administrator for Augusta, Ga., is also a finalist for the York County post. Shanahan has served in the position for more than two years and is formerly of the U.S. Air Force.
“It looked like it was a very challenging job, and I’m kind of looking for a challenge,” Shanahan said of the York County position.
In his current position, Shanahan said he’s used to juggling multiple hats and has experience reorganizing public departments in Augusta.
Finalist Joe Fivas is the town manager for Indian Trail in North Carolina, which has a population roughly half the size of Rock Hill. Indian Trail is just southeast of Charlotte in Union County. Fivas previously held a position as city manager of Owosso, Mich.
County residents are invited to meet the prospective candidates at a public reception on Monday at Baxter Hood Center, 452 S. Anderson Road in Rock Hill.
The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the search firm will be present to answer questions and lead a discussion with the candidates.
Blackwell said he’s looking to see how the candidates interact with the community and in large public settings, which is typical of the job.
The following day, the council will conduct closed-door interviews with each candidate.