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ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- The list of five final candidates to be the next Escambia County Administrator is stirring up lots of questions, and more than a little controversy.
The list includes three candidates from Florida, and two from out of state, with varying levels of experience and concerns.
But it is also what this short list does *not* include that worries some.
The saga that is the search for a new --and permanent-- Escambia County Administrator may be --at long last-- nearing an end.
But even the last few steps --the selection of five finalists for the job-- come steeped in questions, concerns and controversy.
It's a time consuming --and contentious-- process.
Wilson Robertson/District 1 Commissioner "At some point here in the near future, we're going to have a permanent administrator."
At least that's the hope for Escambia County and the Board of County Commissioners.
George Touart has been acting as the interim commissioner since November of 2012, after the county terminated Administrator Randy Oliver.
Touart put his name in the hat for the permanent position but commissioners voted him out of the running -- by a 3-2 margin.
"Everybody knows I supported the interim administrator becoming the permanent administrator, but apparently that's not going to happen."
The five finalists tabbed by a citizens selection committee --with the assistance of an outside consulting group hired by the county--include former Pensacola City Administrator Bill Reynolds - who was terminated by the city after violating public records laws.
That list does not include an African-American candidate or a woman. A fact that leaves Commissioner Lumon May frustrated and asking questions.
Lumon May/District 3 Commissioner
"I asked a direct question, 'were the minorities in that pool qualified?'; and absolutely, the question was yes they were qualified."
"Had it been another selection committee, maybe the names would have been different."
May asked several pointed questions about the diversity of the applicant pool.
The board was told that five blacks and two women were among the 15 semifinalists considered but not selected.
"I think that diversity and inclusion is very important, whether it be minorities, or women. And so I think that we needed a diverse pool of applicants to choose from."
"And I was a little disappointed that there were no women or no minorities that made the final list, and I expressed that concern."
The five finalists will be interviewed by the commissioners January 30th.
The county hopes to have the permanent administrator in place by February.