The number of candidates to apply for Delaware County’s vacant economic development director position has tripled since last month.
The county now has 17 candidates for the open position, who hail from eight different states. At the end of May, just six candidates had applied for the position.
County officials said that two candidates withdrew their names from contention after a public information request was filed last month by The Gazette for a list of applicants, which Delaware County Assistant Administrator Dawn Huston characterized as an “unfortunate situation.”
A representative with Dallas-based Waters and Company, which the county is paying $24,500 to identify and recruit candidates, said in a May 28 email obtained by The Gazette that they were “two of the stronger candidates.”
A third candidate withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday after another public information request for an updated list of candidates.
But the man who formerly held the economic development job here, Gus Comstock, said candidates in the public sector should expect a certain level of scrutiny. Comstock was fired by Delaware County in September without explanation.
“That’s part of the public employee process,” he said. “If you don’t like the heat, don’t jump in the fire. If you think you want to privately apply for a public job, you probably shouldn’t have it.”
According to an email obtained by The Gazette, a June 17 meeting between Waters and Company representatives and county officials was held to “select those that would move forward.”
When asked if the county had narrowed its list of candidates following the meeting, county spokeswoman Teri Morgan said only “it was a review of the candidates and the position remains open until filled.”
While a June 9 email indicated that Waters and Company will continue to recruit candidates — which it has done through ads placed in “agreed upon” professional websites, mailers sent to 700 economic development professionals across the country and outreach to professionals “that would be strong candidates” — the county has scheduled interviews with three to five finalists on July 13 and July 14.
The current applicants are:
• Tim Boland of Lewis Center, city manager in Steubenville, Ohio. Boland also served as the economic development director in Delaware County from 1999 to 2007. He has also applied for the open administrator position in Liberty Township.
• Shane Farnsworth of Port Charlotte, Florida, business development manager in Lee County, Florida.
• Raymond Hagerman, CEO at Four Corners Economic Development in Farmington, New Mexico. His address is not list on his resume.
• Jenna Jackson of Delaware, economic development coordinator in Delaware County.
• Robert Lamb of Galloway, Ohio, community development manager in Upper Arlington.
• Stuart Litvin of Henderson, North Carolina, president of the Henderson-Vance County Economic Development Commission.
• Hua Luo of Delaware, an economic research analyst.
• James Nixon of Tulsa, Oklahoma, president of Mid-Market Economic Development.
• Ismenie Nurradin of Dayton, a marketing, development and communications consultant.
• James Palenick of Gastonia, North Carolina, town manager of Dallas, North Carolina.
• Kenrick Pierre of Pembroke Pines, Florida, vice president of business development at The Bodley Group.
• Jessica Schueren of Columbus, project manager at Edwards Communities Development Co.
• Donald Shea of Covington, Louisiana, director of economic development in St. Tammany Parish.
• Astrida Trupovnieks of Ocala, Florida, senior manager of external affairs for the city of Ocala.
• Kris Tucker of Nashua, New Hampshire, executive director of economic development at Vista Equities.
• Angela Wilkerson of Columbus, a small business owner.
• Edward Willis or Bowie, Maryland, an economic development consultant.
Local attorney Steve Cuckler, who has experience in economic development, including most recently helping to bring an outlet-store shopping mall to Berkshire Township, said officials at every level need to “embrace a new perspective” to be successful in attracting business in the future.
“We need to evolve our business attraction culture in Delaware County from a reactive to a proactive one,” he said. “In many cases, we have been successful in spite of ourselves. Just imagine how great we can be if we can get our county, townships and municipal processes pulling the plow in the same direction. No matter who the next economic development director is, in order for him or her to be successful, we must all embrace a new perspective.”
Through spokeswoman Morgan, county officials declined to comment further for this story.