County manager decision delayed until May

Patrick Cates

Patrick Cates

Discussion to appoint a new county manager was delayed until May after commissioners agreed the process was moving too fast.

“The public has only had a chance to hear about this for a week, now,” Chairman Mark Gardner said in discussing the issue. “I don’t know we’ve had enough time to digest that process.”

Cates recommended Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby and Assistant Manager Jenifer Davidson as contenders for his position.

Commissioner Sharla Hales said she agreed.

“We need more time to ensure county employees and the public has a chance for that input,” she said. She urged residents to contact commissioners with their thoughts about the appointment.

“I appreciate both candidates’ willingness to have their names on the agenda,” Hales said “I think both well qualified.”

Commissioner Wes Rice said he understood that Cates wanted to have someone in place before his last day on June 5.

“I have very good feelings about both people recommended by Mr. Cates,” he said. “I don’t want to lose either one of them. They are both sterling, but I concur that it’s too soon and I’m not comfortable with the process.”

The commission voted 5-0 to remove the item from Thursday’s agenda.

After four years as county manager, Cates notified the county on Friday that he was giving his 60-day notice that he was resigning.

Commissioners could decide in May to open the county manager recruitment to other employees.

Former East Fork Fire Chief Bill Driscoll urged commissioners not to conduct a nationwide search, saying he worked with several managers over the years and that the search doesn't always result in a good candidate.

It took the county eight months to hire Cates after then-County Manager Larry Werner announced he wouldn't be renewing his contract.


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