By DOTTY NIST
Of 48 applicants, eight candidates for Walton County administrator have made the cut to move forward with the interview process.
At their Dec. 18 special meeting at the Walton County Courthouse, county commissioners short-listed candidates to be interviewed for the vacant position. Among the candidates to be interviewed are Larry Jones, who served as District 3 commissioner until November, Interim County Administrator Gerry Demers, and Cory Godwin, current Walton County deputy tax collector.
The following candidates round out the interview list: George Barwick, Crawfordville; Lyndon Bonner, Ocala; Robert Halfhill, Port Charlotte; Steve Howard, Kingsland, Ga.; and Ted Lakey, Graceville.
The list of candidates was the result of each commissioner marking his or her top choices from the 48 applications on a form and Walton County Clerk of Courts Martha Ingle calculating the candidates chosen most frequently on the forms. Each commissioner was asked to make seven choices, but due to some candidates getting the same number of votes, eight finalists were selected.
All county commissioners were present for the Dec. 18 meeting with the exception of District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman.
Cecilia Jones, who served as District 5 Commissioner but lost her bid for re-election in 2012, had applied for the county administrator position. However, she was not selected as one of the eight candidates to be interviewed.
County commissioners are to interview the finalists individually. Most of the interviews are to be conducted at the county administration building in DeFuniak Springs. However, at the request of District 5 Commission Cindy Meadows, her interviews with candidates are being set up in south Walton County. Meadows made this request at the Dec. 18 meeting, stating that she would like the candidates to be interviewed south of the bay because of the different perspective it would provide them of the area.
It is anticipated that the commissioners will make their final selection for county administrator at their Jan. 22 regular meeting.