When former State Sen. W.D. Childers returned to Escambia County in 2000, he easily won election to the Escambia County Commission and took over as the board’s chairman in June 2001.
Over a fourth-month period, November 2001-February 2002, six top leaders of the county’s administration resigned:
- 11/02/01: Assistant Administrator Bill Neron
- 12/03/01: County Engineer Cindy Anderson and County Administrator Tom Forrest
- 12/19/01: Acting County Administrator Gregg Welstead
- 02/02/02: Parks and Recreation Director Mark Thornton
- 02/21/02: County Attorney David Tucker
On April 30, 2002, Childers and three other commissioners were arrested on 27 charges, which included bribery, racketeering, and violating the state’s Sunshine Law. The following day, Gov. Jeb Bush removed them from office.
In the intervening months between the wave of resignations and the indictments, George Touart was hired as the county administrator.