Along with other bombshells, Tuesday's Baldwin County Commission meeting ended with Ralph McMullen as the new county manager.
Linda Fussell, District 2, made a motion to appoint McMullen, removing his interim county manager title. Bubba Williams, District 5, was the lone county official who took issue with the decision.
Williams mentioned a resume process to screen the best candidate for the job seemed necessary. For that reason, he voted no Tuesday.
Incoming District 5 County Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland said the process needed to be open.
“It should have been put out to the public. Like [Williams] said last night, I have no problem with Ralph [McMullen],” Westmoreland said. “I think he has done the county a good job as far as I can tell, but it should have been done differently.”
Not knowing what the hiring practices are for the county, the District 5 commissioner-elect said resumes should have been collected followed by a board decision on the best candidate.
“I think they should have left it alone and let the incoming board make the decision. We are the ones who are going to have to deal with it. These guys that are leaving are out of it now,” Westmoreland said.
The incoming District 5 commissioner wants to see a county manager job description to get more knowledge about what the position really entails.
Fussell's replacement, Tommy French, weighed in as well. French said the county should keep everything consistent and fair by filling all county positions through an open process. Not doing so sets up citizen inquiry, according to French.
“You shouldn't leave any open doors for questions to be asked about the commission. You should always do things in a fair, appropriate and consistent way,” French said. “I can't say how the county feels. There are many mixed feelings. If you don't put yourself in those situations, you don't have to worry about those questions.”
The District 2 rep-elect want to focus on what he can control starting in January. His mindset focuses on whatever needs to be changed to run things correctly.
“I put aside all things that I cannot change,” French said.
Henry Craig, District 4 commissioner-elect, said working with people he didn't choose is nothing new.
“I'll do fine with Ralph McMullen. I'm sure I'll find ways that he will complement me, and he will find ways for the reverse,” Craig said. “I would have loved to work through the process and perhaps have chosen Ralph McMullen. That process may have encouraged a better relationship between the new county commissioners and Ralph.”
Craig said the county deserves character and honesty in the leadership.
“I don't think a decision made like this inspires the confidence of the citizens of the county that I think are looking for something different from the leaders they have chosen for the next four years,” Craig said. “In the big picture, I think there will be discussion from the community that this event did not inspire them, get respect or points for honesty.”
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