Richland County Council has narrowed its field of candidates for the vacant county administrator post down to four finalists.
According to a release from the county, those finalists are: Connecticut Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick Bremby; Smith County, Texas administrator Leonardo Brown; York County Manager William Shanahan; and Lake County, Illinois Assistant Administrator Dakisha Wesley.
The county's list of finalists is diverse in a number of ways, geographically and otherwise: The candidates are from four different states and four different regions of the country. Three (Bremby, Brown and Wesley) are African-American, and one (Wesley) is a woman.
Richland County spokeswoman Beverly Harris tells Free Times there were 48 total applicants for the position.
County Council will likely hire a new administrator in the coming weeks.
Richland County has been without a regular administrator for more than a year, following a disastrous ending with former administrator Gerald Seals, who had been with Richland since 2016. In April 2018, Council voted — twice — to fire Seals, with some Council members accusing the administrator of, among other things, sleeping on the job. Seals subsequently threatened to sue the county.
In May 2018, County Council approved a settlement with Seals: He got nearly $1 million, and agreed not to bring a suit against the county.
The county then hired Edward Gomeau as an interim administrator, and, though he only worked with in Richland for less than a year, he navigated the county through several difficult issues. He help convince Council to begin reimbursing the county's transportation fund for millions of dollars in penny tax expenditures that were unallowable per the S.C. Department of Revenue and state Supreme Court, and he urged Council to approve a robust audit of the oft-controversial penny program, which they did. It was also at Gomeau's urging that Council rekindled the previously maligned Richland Renaissance county improvement plan, albeit in a slimmed down form.
Gomeau's tenure ended March 31, and John Thompson has been serving as an acting administrator since then.
Bremby has been Connecticut's DSS director for eight years, serving two four-year terms. He also is a former assistant city manager in Lawrence, Kansas. Reports indicate current Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont chose not to re-appoint Broderick for another term, but Connecticut's DSS website says he has continued in the role as the state is recruiting a new director for the agency.
Before serving in his current role of county administrator in Smith County, Texas, Brown ran the county's human resources department. Smith County has a population of about 227,000 and is located in northeast Texas. Brown has been with Smith County for eight years, and before that he was an area rental car manager with Enterprise.
Shanahan has been York County's manager since 2013, and held a number of other county or municipal jobs before that, including as the city manager of St. Mary's, Georgia, and the county manager of Habersham, Georgia. He has been in governmental administration for 22 years. York County, just across the state line from Charlotte, has a population of 266,000. Shanahan was a finalist for the Beaufort County administrator position less than a year ago.
Wesley has been working in local government for 15 years. Prior to her current role as the assistant county administrator in Lake County, Illinois, she was an assistant director of municipal court services in Fort Worth, Texas, and a financial analyst for the city of Grand Prairie, Texas. Lake County, Illinois has a population of about 700,000. It is just north of Chicago, along the shores of Lake Michigan. It is the third most populous county in Illinois.