County Administrator position has rocky past

October 16, 2012

Escambia County administrators have a short career span with the county. On average they serve less than three years, so it’s no surprise that Randy Oliver finds himself on the chopping block with a year left on his contract. What is surprising is that it may be the last act of this current Board of County Commissioners before two new commissioners come on board in November.

The commissioner driving this train is Kevin White, whose last meeting will most likely be Thursday, Oct. 18. He has been an Oliver supporter for the last two years. However, commission alliances have been known to change. White has applied for jobs with the county and was rumored to be Buck Lee’s replacement at the Santa Rosa Island Authority if Lee was elected the Santa Rosa Supervisor of Elections (Lee lost the GOP primary in August). A new county administrator might be more receptive to hiring White—but that seems to be stretch since White won’t be part of hiring the new full-time administrator.

Commissioner Wilson Robertson has not been an Oliver fan, and he is expected to be elected in November to what he has called his final term. Politically he has nothing to lose voting against Oliver on Thursday. However, Commissioner Gene Valentino is known to have political aspirations beyond county government. A messy vote on the county administrator could have negative ramifications for his political career, if it’s seen as a backroom deal.

This will be the best political show in town for the next couple of days.

List of County Administrators:

Joe Mooney
Jan. 7, 1977 – May 18, 1978
(1 year, 4 months)

Fred Hubacker (Acting)
May 19, 1978 – Oct. 22, 1978
(5 months)

Rodney L. Kendig
Oct. 23, 1978 – Nov. 16, 1984
(6 years)

Chuck Bates (Acting)
Nov. 17, 1984 – April 21, 1985
(5 months)

August V. Ellis
April 22, 1985 – June 3, 1988
(3 years, 1 month)

J. Wayne Peacock
(Acting, then appointed permanently)
May 24, 1988 – Dec. 31, 1991
(3 years, 7 months)

Robert W. Koncar
Jan. 1, 1992 – March 31, 1994
(2 years, 3 months)

John F. Asmar (Acting)
April 1, 1994 – April 30, 1994
(29 days)

Barry R. Evans
May 1, 1994 – April 11, 2000
(5 years, 11 months)

Thomas L. Forrest
(Interim, then appointed permanently) April 28, 2000 – Dec. 3, 2001
(1 year, 8 months)

Robert T. Halfhill (Interim)
Dec. 4, 2001 – April 21, 2002
(1 year, 4 months)

George Touart
April 22, 2002 – Sept. 6, 2007
(5 years, 4 months)

Robert W. McLaughlin (Interim/then full-time)
Sept. 7, 2007 – Dec. 17, 2009
(2 years, 3 months)

Larry Newsome (Interim)
Dec. 18, 2009 – Oct. 31, 2010
(10 months)

Randy Oliver
Nov. 1, 2010 – present
Contract ends Oct. 31, 2013

Longest Tenure: Rodney L. Kendig, 6 years
Longest Serving Interim: Robert T. Halfhill at 1 year, 4 months

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  • Charles Wood October 17, 2012 at 7:02 am

    CJ – they all read this…and the next one will too.

  • Beer burp October 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    The definition of insanity is…..

  • CJ Lewis October 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    They should show this list to all future County Administrator applicants to make them think twice about suffering through the process made even worse if they lose the lottery and get the thankless job.

    So a County Commissioner can leave office and come right back as a County employee? At least the City has a one year prohibition against such nonsense described in Section 4.04.(c) of the City Charter.

    The County Commissioner evaluations of County Administrator Oliver for both 2012 and 2011 are disturbing for their insights into the minds of the Commissioners and not just because multiple Commissioners were unable or unwilling to property complete the forms. Some comments are downright banal as if they either have no idea what’s going on or imagine the County Administrator to be their personal “gofer.”

    What’s the comparable story over in Santa Rosa County? Hunter Walker has been the Santa Rosa County Administrator since 1995. Is part of his success that he benefits from working for better County Commissioners?

    Does the fact that County Commissioners are elected at-large in Santa Rosa County, versus by single-member districts in Escambia County, promote a different mindset among the County Commissioners in Santa Rosa County?

  • Ames October 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    This record suggests the Commission doesn’t know what the heck they are doing in hiring an Administrator.

  • George Hawthorne October 16, 2012 at 11:39 am


    I have heard this entire Oliver “issue” is being driven by White’s need to get a job with the County. I was also told exactly what you reported as the background of this issue.

    I respect Gene very much and I know he is smarter than letting his vote being tied to White’s desire. I read his evaluation and it seems as if the rift can be repaired. However, I would hope that this major decision would be left to the new BOCC since we will have at least 2 new commissioners.

    A bigger issue is the rift with Sheriff Morgan, that problem seems to irreparable without some major “fence mending.”