Officials Decide on Three Applicants to Interview for County Attorney Position

By DOTTY NIST
After receiving 11 applications for the position of county attorney, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) has scheduled interviews with a short list of three applicants.
The position had been vacated on May 19 due to the resignation of Mark Davis. Davis, who had served as county attorney since 2013, accepted a position in the Grayton Beach office of the Pensacola-based law firm Clark Partington.
Upon acceptance of Davis’ resignation on April 25, the BCC had appointed Sidney Noyes, assistant county attorney, to serve as interim county attorney. Noyes is one of the 11 attorneys who subsequently applied for the county attorney job.
Other applicants and place of residence follow: Thomas Bowsman, Ocala; Heather Christman, Freeport; Robert Eschenfelder, Lakewood Ranch, Fla.; Carly Hermanson, Tallahassee; Russell Kent, Tallahassee; Kristopher Leon, Louisville, Ky.; James Moran, Fort Myers; Ryan Ross, Fort Walton Beach; Wayne Williamson, Santa Rosa Beach; and Rene Youell, DeFuniak Springs.
As part of the June 20 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting at the Walton County Courthouse, the officials viewed the applications and individually ranked their choices for interviewing. The individual rankings were then tabulated by staff.
Reported by Walton County Deputy Administrator Stan Sunday, the tabulation revealed that Noyes had received four “votes” to be interviewed, Youell and Hermanson three, Eschenfelder and Ryan two, and Williamson and Kent one each.
District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson quickly moved to interview the “top three,” the candidates receiving three or more “votes.” The motion was seconded by District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander.
BCC Chair Cecilia Jones indicated that her preference would be to interview the “top five,” the candidates receiving two or more votes. Asking if there was any public comment and receiving no response, Jones called for a decision on Anderson’s motion. It was approved 3-1, with Anderson, District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman, and Comander voting in favor and Jones voting no. District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper was not present for the meeting due to her service overseas as a U.S. Army reservist.
July 12 was the date agreed upon for interviews by the commissioners of the top three county attorney candidates, Noyes, Youell, and Hermanson.