A year after twice-fired administrator’s departure, Richland County picks 4 finalists

Richland County is a step closer to having its top position filled.

The county administrator job has been vacant since April 2018, when council made a contentious vote to fire former administrator Gerald Seals, then had to vote to fire him again, leading to a $1 million settlement for the ousted leader. Following the brief tenure of an interim administrator, council appointed the director of the transportation department, John Thompson, as acting administrator.

Thursday, the county announced four finalists for the administrator job:

  • Roderick Bremby — current commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services.
  • Leonardo Brown — current county administrator for Smith County, Texas.
  • William Shanahan — current county manager for York County, South Carolina.
  • Dakisha Wesley — current assistant county administrator for Lake County, Illinois.

The county administrator is in charge of overseeing all county operations and departments, including how the county spends money.

Councilwoman Yvonne McBride, who served as chair of council’s ad hoc committee overseeing the search, said in a statement that she is pleased with the “very diverse and talented field of candidates, which is reflected in the final four.”

Bremby, appointed to his DSS position in 2011, led efforts to reform health care programs and to transition to paperless systems, the county’s statement said. From 1990 to 2000, he was assistant city manager of Lawrence, Kansas.

Bremby was scrutinized in 2018 for delay times at DSS when they transitioned to a paperless system, the Connecticut Mirror reported.

The Governor of Connecticut did not reappoint Bremby as head of the state’s social services agency amid a lawsuit against the agency that alleged poor oversight of a private transportation contractor which is responsible for providing services to Medicaid recipients, according to the Hartford Courant.

Brown, in his eight years at Smith County, moved up from human resource leader to county administrator, according to Richland county. “Mr. Brown has 19 years of progressive management and leadership experience both in the public and private sectors.”

In 2018, Brown was one of the county leaders who pushed for Smith County to stop paying for a $35,000 drug, which was used to treat conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, for county employees, saying cheaper alternatives were available, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.

Shanahan has 22 years of experience in different levels of local government, according to a news release from Richland County. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, “where he served honorably for 20 years,” the county statement said. In 2018, he was also an administrator finalist for Spartanburg and Beaufort counties, according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and the Island Packet.

Wesley, with her current position in Lake County, Illinois, focuses her efforts on the county’s criminal justice offices, such as the circuit court, prosecutors office, public defenders, sheriff’s and coroner’s offices and others. She has “more than 15 years of local government experience,” according to Richland County.

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