By DOTTY NIST
County commissioners have directed negotiations with Robert T. Halfhill of Port Charlotte to bring him on board to fill the vacant county administrator’s position.
The decision came at the Jan. 22 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting at the Walton County Courthouse, following the commissioners submitting four ballots.
It began with a request by District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows that each commissioner submit their top three choices of the six final candidates under consideration. After considerable additional discussion on the process to be followed, the commissioners proceeded with picking their top three, and their ballots were read aloud by Walton County Clerk of Courts Alex Alford. Alford read each commissioner’s choices aloud after each balloting.
Candidates included two local men, Walton County Chief Deputy Tax Collector Cory Godwin and former Walton County Commissioner Larry Jones. Rounding out the six finalists were Ted Lakey of Graceville, George Barwick of Crawfordville, Lyndon Bonner of Ocala, and Robert Halfhill of Port Charlotte.
Choices for the first ballot were the following, in order of preference: District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman – Ted Lakey, Larry Jones, Cory Godwin; District 2 Commissioner Kenneth Pridgen – Larry Jones, Cory Godwin, Lyndon Bonner; District 3 Commissioner Bill Imfeld – Ted Lakey, George Barwick, Robert Halfhill; District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander – Cory Godwin, Robert Halfhill, Lyndon Bonner; District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows – Robert Halfhill, Larry Jones, Ted Lakey.
The first ballot resulted in no candidate getting three votes for top choice. It was determined that Bonner, who received only two third-place votes, and Barwick, who received only one second-place vote, would be eliminated.
Choices for the second ballot were: Chapman – Lakey, Jones, Godwin; Pridgen – Jones, Godwin, Halfhill; Imfeld – Lakey, Halfhill, Jones; Comander – Godwin, Halfhill, Lakey; Meadows – Jones, Halfhill, Lakey. Again, no candidate received three first-place votes. As a result of that ballot, Godwin, who had received only one vote as top choice, was eliminated.
Choices for the third ballot were: Chapman – Lakey, Jones, Halfhill; Pridgen – Jones, Lakey, Halfhill; Imfeld – Lakey, Halfhill, Jones; Comander – Halfhill, Lakey, Jones; Meadows – Halfhill, Jones, Lakey, with the result that still no candidate received three first-place votes.
A motion by Imfeld was then approved for each commissioner to choose between Halfhill and Lakey, since these were the only two candidates to receive two first-place votes..
Two commissioners, Chapman and Imfeld, selected Lakey. Three commissioners, Comander, Meadows, and Pridgen, selected Halfhill, resulting in Halfhill being chosen as the candidate to be negotiated with for the position.
Halfhill is currently serving as public works director for Port Charlotte over a department of 140 employees. He is holder of a graduate degree in public administration, and prior to his approximately 20 years’ experience in local government, he served as an active duty Marine Corps officer.
At the Jan. 22 meeting, attorney Mark Davis was approved as temporary county attorney in he absence of county attorney Toni Craig. Davis was charged with heading up negotiations with Halfhill, with results to be presented to the commissioners at their first regular meeting in February.
If negotiations with Halfhill are unsuccessful, they are to proceed next to runners-up Lakey and then Jones.