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34 apply for Lee administrator post

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Officials at the national management consulting firm The Mercer Group's Louisburg, N.C., office are evaluating 34 applicants in an effort to find "from eight to 15" finalists for the Lee County administrator position that is currently being filled on an interim basis by Al Crace.

The Lee County Commission will eventually select one of the applicants to fill the position vacated by Alan Ours in August. Ours left to take the same job in Glynn County after four years at the Lee County position.

"We've interviewed each of the commissioners in Lee County and other staff members whose input we were directed to seek, and from their remarks we've constructed a profile that will help us identify the leading candidates according to the qualities we've been told the county is looking for in an administrator," Phillip Robertson, an information technology specialist with The Mercer Group, said Monday.

"Based on the applicants' profiles, we'll select from eight to 15 finalists that we think best meet those qualities and present them to the (Lee County) board (of Commissioners). After discussions with the board, they'll identify from three to five candidates, and we'll ask those candidates to sign waivers allowing us to look as deeply into their background as we need to make informed recommendations."

Robertson, who has been part of The Mercer Group's staff for 12 years, said he would not make personnel recommendations to Lee County leaders as they worked to fill the administrative post.

"The only thing we're comfortable with is advising (Lee officials) on the process," Robertson said. "Our job is to identify the candidates that meet the minimum requirements for the position as determined by local officials.

"Once the board has narrowed the list down to a final three to five, we will look extensively into the candidates' background and present any pertinent information to the board."

Robertson said the initial process of trimming the list of candidates to a manageable number for the Lee Commission could be finished in "the next week to week and a half." He said, though, that he was not working from a timeline.

"What we offer in an executive search like this is the benefit of our experience," Robertson said. "Nobody elected The Mercer Group to identify the next administrator for Lee County; we are simply here to assist in the process by matching candidates to county leaders' qualifications."

Robertson said he didn't expect issues with any of the candidates his firm will recommend similar to the the ones that arose in Albany and Dougherty County with the selection of former Downtown Manager Don Buie and Superintendent of Schools Joshua Murfree. He noted, in fact, that The Mercer Group had been retained by the city of Albany to help find Buie's replacement.

"We do not have a cutoff date for criminal background checks," he said. "We're sticklers when it comes to issues like that."

While a list of applicants for the position is not available, three local officials with ties to Lee County and Leesburg are seen as potential candidates, including Crace, current Leesburg City Clerk Casey Moore and current Lee County Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander.

The qualification profile for the Lee administrator position is available online at mercergroupinc.com.