Hiring committee to narrow choices for county administrator

Published: Wed, December 20, 2017 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Ed Runyan



A hiring committee consisting of three respected local leaders will narrow the choices for Trumbull County administrator to three finalists from which the three county commissioners will choose one.

The county human resources director, however, is off the candidate list.

On Tuesday, HR Director Richard Jackson withdrew from consideration after Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa expressed frustration last week that Jackson put himself in the running without first consulting with all three commissioners.

Cantalamessa said Tuesday Jackson told Commissioner Dan Polivka he wanted to be considered for the job one day before Cantalamessa learned of it.

Cantalamessa said that’s troubling because a key function of being county administrator is to communicate well with all three commissioners.

Jackson also wrote the job description for the administrator position and advertised the position without telling the commissioners he wanted the position.

Polivka said Tuesday that “ethically, [Jackson] shouldn’t have written the job description” if he was going to apply for the job.

Jackson said Tuesday he would withdraw “to relieve any appearance of impropriety.”

Jackson began as human resources director in October 2016 through a special committee Cantalamessa created after Commissioner Frank Fuda cried foul over what Fuda said was improper influence being exerted on hiring decisions by “commissioners.”

Cantalamessa said the hiring for a county administrator will follow a similar committee-selection process as used to hire Jackson. The members will be Howland Township Administrator Darlene St. George, recent Warren mayoral candidate Dennis Blank and former commander of the 910th Airlift Wing of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station Col. James Dignan, who is now chief operating officer of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

The commissioners could put an item on their agenda as early as today establishing the committee, Cantalamessa said.

“We want to do it as transparently as possible,” Cantalamessa said of the hiring, which was suggested to them by the Citizens Budget Review Committee that met earlier this year and made various recommendations to the commissioners to save money.

Another controversial applicant for the position is Mike Matas, who Polivka recommended for the committee and who was later chosen by the committee as its chairman.

Some questioned whether it’s proper for the chairman of the committee recommending the creation of the new position to then seek the position himself.

But Polivka continued to maintain Matas’ position on the committee should not prevent him from being in the running, saying Matas was a volunteer on the committee, and the entire committee recommended adding a county administrator.

Members of the citizens budget committee said hiring a county administrator would provide the commissioners with one person to direct the business of the county with oversight from the commissioners, like a CEO and board of directors.

Polivka said he felt the county operated better in 2006, the last time it had a county administrator. Its last county administrator, Tony Carson, resigned under pressure from then-Commissioner Paul Heltzel.

Fuda said the commissioners already have three employees who serve as county administrators: Jim Misocky, special projects manager, who makes $63,788 annually; clerk/interim administrator Paulette Godfrey, who makes $66,569; and Jackson, who makes $80,817.

Polivka said none of those is a county administrator.

Jackson said the county administrator would earn between $66,897 and $95,673 annually depending on experience.

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