LGWCD Releases Short List Of Administrator Candidates

The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors approved a short list of five candidates Monday to replace 15-year veteran Clete Saunier, who was dismissed as district administrator last month.

Since the board’s last meeting, Saunier had accepted the district’s offer of a separation package worth $80,547.83.

Supervisor Don Widing said that he and Supervisor John Ryan had met and narrowed the list of 22 candidates who applied for the position down to five and one alternate.

The candidates are engineer Anthony V. LasCasas, Steve A. McKown, engineer Stephen E. Yohe, James Anaston-Karas, and engineer Raul Mercado of Water Resources Management Associates. The alternate is engineer W. Erik Olson.

Widing explained that the board had delegated him and Ryan to narrow the list down in a publicly advertised meeting Friday, Dec. 7. Widing also passed out a list of suggested guidelines to follow in the selection process. The 22 applications amounted to 365 pages that they reviewed, he said.

“In all my years of human resources work in hiring and going through human assessment processes personally, I have never experienced the bulk in single resumes ever,” Widing said. “We had submissions from three pages to 35 pages on a single candidate, and we looked at every single piece of paper.”

Widing said that neither he nor Ryan had contacted any of the candidates or their references, but they had assembled a set of suggested guidelines for the board to follow in the selection process.

“We’re recommending that the board determine a date and a time for an initial candidate interview, and establish an allotted time frame for each candidate,” Widing said. “The board will review and approve an invitation to participate.”

Candidates will be provided a salary range and benefits for the position, and will be given a self-evaluation form for them to fill out and return to the district for distribution to the board to review prior to the interview.

Each board member will be given an option to develop a maximum of three questions for the initial candidate interviews based on their own review of the applications and the candidates’ self-evaluations.

“That gives the potential for a maximum of 15 questions, which is quite a lot, but we feel that with the diversity on the board and the self-evaluation, if each board member does their work, after 15 questions and the interviews with the candidate’s response, we should get a pretty good initial interpretation of that person’s capabilities,” Widing said.

He also pointed out that interviewing five candidates for typically 45 minutes each would make for a long meeting. “You’re looking at potentially a five-hour process,” he said.

Ryan suggested that the invitations go out to the candidates the following morning by registered mail to give them the opportunity to think through the self-evaluations and send them back to the legal department by the following Monday, Dec. 17.

Ryan said he would hope to conduct the interviews and have background checks done before the regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 14 so the supervisors could make their final decision then, pointing out that the financial reporting season is coming up and that the audit will be presented in February.

The council decided to meet Saturday, Dec. 22 beginning at 9:30 a.m. to pick the top three, or possibly even make the final decision then.

In other business, Loxahatchee Groves voters on North B Road rejected a referendum Monday to pave their road. The vote was held during a property owners’ meeting prior to the LGWCD board meeting. In a vote based on acreage, the residents along North B Road rejected open-graded emulsified mix paving by a vote of 425 acres to 259 acres.

LGWCD Attorney Mary Viator explained that the district’s accountant had conducted the voting and count, and that any resident of the district or his spouse was eligible to cast votes based on acreage or proxy votes that they brought in.