Clallam commissioners mull second round for administrator search

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners decided during a work session Monday they would continue their conversation about how to begin the second search for a new county administrator.

On Thursday, the board rescinded its conditional offer to hire David Fraser as its next administrator after discovering information that showed he isn’t the “right fit” for the county, commissioners said.

Commissioners have not said publicly what information was discovered.

After the executive session Thursday morning, Commissioners Mark Ozias and Randy Johnson agreed to start the search for a new administrator, appointing Human Resources Director Rich Sill as the interim county administrator when Jim Jones retires Oct. 15.

Commissioner Bill Peach, who was sick last week and did not attend that executive session, said Monday he supported the decision.

“I totally agree with the decision that was made,” he said. “Though I consider it too bad, I’m glad we have the courage to stand up to reality and do the right thing.”

Ozias said he had been approached by multiple department heads who said they thanked him for “doing your best to look out for county staff,” he said.

Sill told commissioners that Strategic Government Resources (SGR), the recruitment firm the county hired on a $27,000 contract, is prepared to do a second search for free.

The original search took about 15 weeks, but Sill said the second search could take just over two months “if it moves along quickly.”

Sill said that according to SGR, a second search typically does come up with a new selection of candidates.

Ozias said the county’s interview process went well during the first round. It included interviews by department heads and a panel of community members.

“I communicated with folks on the citizens panel and they expressed enthusiasm for reprising that role when the time comes,” he said.

Among the issues the county faces in deciding how to move forward is how it will address finances. They are looking to hire an administrator — who is responsible for the budget — as Chief Accountant Stan Creasey eyes retirement.

The commissioners have been looking at creating a finance department, part of which has included designating a chief financial officer who would oversee the budget.

Though commissioners had sought to put the measure before voters this November, a paperwork error prevented the question from appearing on the ballot.

Jones suggested the county focuses first on hiring a new chief financial officer before beginning the second search for his replacement.

“You might want to consider hiring that position first,” he said. “You do all that work and then you look for your county administrator, rather than trying to jump in right now and trying to do both at the same time.”

Ozias said he had thought about that, but questioned Sill as to whether working as the interim administrator for several months would be feasible.

Sill said he has plenty of help in Human Resources, but that he wouldn’t want to lose “the quality and momentum that, quite frankly, that Human Resources, risk management, public records and all those things below have and have obtained.”

Johnson said he doesn’t want to extend Sill too much and that he doesn’t want to lose the positive things happening in his department.

“We’re going to start losing some of those good things,” he said. “People only have so much time and I’m looking at you [Sill] when I say that.”

Ozias suggested the commissioners pick up the discussion again Monday with more ideas for how to proceed, including ideas for the job description.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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