Q: As of last month, Hunter Conrad had just been hired as the county’s interim county administrator. Can you give an update on how this is going so far?
A: He has been on the job for about a month now [as of the date of this interview, Jan. 9, 2020] and I’d say he’s doing a great job. He brings great vision, fresh thoughts and innovation to the position. I feel we have been justified in trusting him.
Q: Is the search on for the permanent county administrator yet?
A: Our late January meeting of the board of county commissioners will focus on the process we will use to find a permanent replacement. We have several things to consider: will we hire a search firm to assist us? This has a cost, of course. The Florida Association of Counties also offers support to help us find a candidate. Whatever way we decide to go, I plan to be fair, firm and impartial.
Q: Do you foresee a nationwide search?
A: In talking to other counties in Florida who have undertaken a search, it is unusual and rare to do a nationwide search due to the expense. I believe there is a lot of talent in St. Johns County and it might be in our best interest to look locally, at least at first. We are looking for the best qualified individual as well as the best fit. [Editor’s Note: On Jan. 21, the Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to hire Hunter Conrad as the permanent county administrator.]
Q: What kind of a timetable would you anticipate?
A: I would expect that we will have identified our process in the next month or so and then I’d like to have the candidate identified by late spring, if possible.
Q: Do you have an update on beach renourishment that you’d like to share?
A: We are hoping to get some FEMA funds released in the next few months to replenish county funds already spent. We are on schedule with the beach renourishment process, about one year into a two year process. We have identified an engineering firm, Olsen and Associates, who are preparing the permits to submit to the Army Corps of Engineers and other government entities, and we are also working to identify some offshore sand sources.
Q: Do you have any plans for Town Hall meetings in the near future?
A: Yes, we are setting up more Town Halls in the spring, to be held in Nocatee and Ponte Vedra Beach. Dates are still to be announced.
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