This past Monday our county commissioners voted to enter employment negotiations with Tony Gomillion to replace long-time county administrator Hunter Walker. Tony has been a department director with the county for 29 years, both as public services director and as environmental control director.
On one hand, his 29 years with Santa Rosa County speaks volumes to experience and knowledge of the issues facing our county. On the flip side, when you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten, so the saying goes. Hopes are high that Mr. Gomillion will make some changes in the right direction for the county; but many have expressed doubts.
The two others in the narrowed-down field of candidates each have master’s degrees in public administration and both have served as county or city administrators. Mr. Dowling’s experience was 22-years strong as a county administrator in Georgia. Mr. Lakey boasted 12 years of experience as a county administrator in Florida. Mr. Gomillion’s experience was that of a county department director, not a county administrator.
Perhaps bringing someone in from outside of the area would have breathed fresh air into the county, and perhaps that is exactly what the commissioners didn’t want. Commissoner Cole made it clear when prior to the vote he said, “Tony Gomillion is someone who knows Santa Rosa County and can keep us on the track we are on and perhaps at a faster rate.” Commissioner Lynchard said that as a county we have very little room for improvement. He spoke to the county being ranked one way or another in the state in different areas and credited Mr. Gomillion for “playing a part in getting us there.” Commissioner Williams’ decision was based partially on the fact that Gomillion spoke of his accomplishments in terms of “we” not “I” and that they share a passion for developing staff.
We believe the evidence supports that the county really doesn’t want anyone new working in leadership positions. Just last month Personnel Director Devan Cook retired, and then a special arrangement was made with Landrum staffing to bring him back as a contract worker under Landrum.
So, Santa Rosa County, will we continue to get the same song, second verse when it comes to the flooding, stormwater drainage, building codes, permitting, and other issues in the county? Or will Tony Gomillion be his own man and chart a new course of responsiveness? Santa Rosa residents will be waiting…