November 9, Santa Rosa County should know who’s taking over as the “vitally important,” as Commissioner Rob Williamson said, Santa Rosa County Administrator. Tony Gomillion, Ted Lakey, or Randall Dowling will succeed Hunter Walker, who has served the county since October 23, 1995.

Beginning with a stack of 68 resumes, the Santa Rosa County Administrator Search Committee, made up of 4 current and former county administrators, reduced the list of candidates to 9. Members Vince Long, 20-year Leon County administrator, Ernie Padgett, former SRC administrator and 12-year Manatee County administrator, Chris Holley, 13-year Okaloosa County administrator, and Jack Brown, current Escambia County administrator did this first daunting task. With one of those 9 accepting another position elsewhere, the BOCC had a list of 8 with which to work.

At Monday’s BOCC meeting, the commissioners whittled those 8 to 3, based on how many commissioners voted for each member. They all voted for Gomillion while Lakey and Dowling received 3 votes.

The shoes one of these 3 men will fill walked through many trials in the last two decades. Chairman Don Salter said, “We’ve been through some trying events with Mr. Walker. We had Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Dennis in ‘05. We’ve had recession, depression. I think he’s done a great job.”

Gomillion has the most SRC experience as the Public Services Director who has served from 2003 to the present. From 1986 to 2003 he was the Environmental Control Director. According to his resume, initiatives he’s implemented include employee recognition, establishing multiple methods of surveying customers, balancing budget reductions and customer service, and implementing team building and leadership processes.

Lakey has been a county administrator as long as Gomillion for Jackson County and County Division Chief of the Road Prison Division of the Public Works Department of Escambia County from 1998 to 2003. Similar to Gomillion’s resume, Lakey’s reflects a career public servant who developed a $45 million budget, worked with community leaders, and created 600 jobs after bringing five major companies to Jackson County.

Dowling doesn’t lack in public service with 29 years in local government management “in both city and county governments,” in Georgia. He spent the last two years as Barrow County manager, 11 years as Gordon County administrator, and six years before as Lee County administrator. Dowling’s accomplishments include several multi-million dollar capital improvement projects, working with contractors, vendors, engineers and citizens, and did long term planning in all three counties.

Keep up with the Santa Rosa Press Gazette next month to see who the county selects to follow Walker.