One finalist works for the county, and another is running for elected office.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners will have interviews today with at least two finalists for county administrator.
The third finalist, George M. McKelvey, wants to know why they are scheduling interviews less than two weeks before the May primary election.
McKelvey, former mayor of Youngstown, also is a candidate for county commissioner.
He is challenging incumbent Commissioner David Ludt for the Democratic nomination.
If elected, McKelvey says he'll also serve as county administrator for at least the first two years of his term, with no extra pay.
Commissioner Anthony Traficanti has been the county's acting administrator since February 2005, a month after he took office.
McKelvey faxed a letter to commissioners Tuesday, the same day he says he was called to schedule an interview for the administrator's job.
The application deadline was March 3.
If commissioners wanted to fill the job before the election, McKelvey said he'd perform the duties for $1 per month until the outcome of the May primary.
"All of a sudden, 10 working days before Election Day, there is a sense of urgency to hire a county administrator," McKelvey wrote. "Surely you can wait until the voters of Mahoning County speak on May 2."
Commissioners also should consider the community's "private-sector challenges" -- namely, the financial troubles of local employers Forum Health, Delphi Packard Electric Systems and General Motors -- and partially closed county jail "before you decide to spend more tax dollars on administrative costs," McKelvey wrote.
"I don't believe anybody is in a hurry to hire within the next 10 days," Commissioner John A. McNally IV said Wednesday. "That certainly has not been part of any discussion I've been part of."
"We're not saying we're going to hire before the primary," Ludt said.
"That would be presumptuous to even suggest that," Traficanti said. As for the timing of the interviews, "It's the commissioners' call," he said, adding that the process has "languished for some time."
If McKelvey isn't available for an interview today, McNally said he is willing to postpone it until after the election, if McKelvey remains interested.
Ludt said he'll leave decisions about finalists' interviews to McNally. "I didn't want to be too close to the situation," he said. When commissioners began to advertise in February for an administrator, Ludt said he saw a desirable candidate in George J. Tablack, the current county budget director and former auditor.
Tablack is a finalist, as is Gary E. Jones of Lorain, who is executive director of a nonprofit educational organization called Project GRAD USA. Both were scheduled to be interviewed today. McKelvey hadn't confirmed his appointment as of midday Wednesday.
"I look forward to interviewing him at some point if he shows up," Traficanti said.
An administrator should be hired in the near future. "The sooner, the better, but probably after the primary," Ludt said.
With Tablack already working in the commissioners' office and McKelvey campaigning against Ludt, "this creates all sorts of conspiracy theories," McNally said. "I would like to put this administrator issue to bed as soon as possible after the election."
Fourteen people applied for the job. The administrator will direct activities of all departments in the commissioners' control, oversee the budget, monitor compliance with commissioners' policies and supervise the office staff. Salary was listed as negotiable on the job posting..