Jefferson County in no rush to find new administrator

Interim manager praised for work

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County officials will wait until after Jan. 1 to restart the recruitment process for a new county administrator.

Finalist Ethan Raup, 51, was still in verbal negotiations and had not received an official offer letter with a salary when he declined to move forward to accept the position in late October. Raup said he has decided to stay with KEXP public radio in Seattle.

The Jefferson County commissioners and other county elected officials and department directors reached a consensus in their quarterly meeting on Oct. 25 to hold off on resuming the search until after the holidays, saying interim County Administrator Mark McCauley has been doing well and recruitment during the late fall is extremely challenging.

The county also is currently managing the second biennial budget cycle and other projects such as work to move the Port Hadlock sewer project forward, Commission Chair Kate Dean has said.

Officials don’t see a need to rush the recruitment and decision process for a new administrator, Dean said in an interview Friday.

Officials plan to get things in order over the next few weeks, so a job posting can be made soon after Jan. 1, Dean said.

“Nobody feels a big urgency to get a new administrator on board, in part because Mark McCauley has been doing a really good job of holding things steady,” Dean said. “We were disappointed that our chosen candidate backed out, but it kind of clarified what we’re looking for.”

“I feel like we learned a lot from that process and we have a better idea about what we hope to find in a new administrator,” Dean said.

She also plans to work with the county’s search firm, Prothman, to discuss what actions could be taken to increase the diversity of the candidate pool in a second search.

There was no consensus among staff about moving forward with the other two finalists, Dean said.

McCauley, the county central services director, has served as interim county administrator since April, when former County Administrator Philip Morley abruptly resigned after more than 12 years in the post.

Morley, 67, said then that the resignation was “mutually agreed upon” with county commissioners Dean described as “one of the youngest boards of commissioners in the state.”

Many of the department directors praised McCauley’s work over the past six months.

“I’m pretty happy with Mark’s leadership,” said Jeff Chapman, county assessor, at the Oct. 25 meeting. “I don’t feel any rush to move forward.

“We’ve had a lot of changes this year, and I have no problem putting this off until next year if Mark is willing to stay on and continue on as he is.”

McCauley said he is willing to continue on an interim basis.

“I’m content to continue doing this if you all are content to keep me,” he said during the Oct. 25 meeting.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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