1. Archive

2 officials ask: Will conflict hurt quest to fill job?

The commissioners fear controversy will discourage strong candidates.

Who would want to step into County Administrator Bonnie Dyga's shoes?

That's a question two county commissioners are asking in the wake of Dyga's surprise announcement Wednesday that she is resigning Oct. 10 to become assistant city manager in Port St. Lucie.

It is expected to take several months to find a successor to Dyga, who earned $82,000 this year.

Paul Sullivan and Nancy Robinson worry that the controversy and strained relations that plagued Dyga's brief tenure will discourage high-caliber candidates _ and at a time when growth-related issues will only increase for Hernando County.

But Commission Chairwoman Pat Novy said she is unconcerned. Any would-be county administrator understands controversy is "the nature of the beast" in counties across Florida, she said.

When Dyga was hired in February 1998, some commissioners said they wanted a more aggressive, independent-minded leader than Chuck Hetrick had been during his 13 years on the job. But Sullivan said Novy and Commissioner Bobbi Mills have constantly undercut Dyga, both in public and in dealings with county staffers.

Dyga's resignation, Sullivan said, sends a clear message that some on the commission want "a yes-man or yes-woman rather than someone who tells them what they need to hear."

Robinson said any aspirant will have to ask the same question: "Will I be able to be the administrator and administrate, or am I going to have people micromanaging me over my shoulder?"

She added, "In a community of professionals, word gets out."

But Novy said every county has its share of controversy, something any candidate for a high-level position realizes.

"When the people are applying for jobs, they don't go into these types of jobs with their eyes closed," she said. "They do research."

The suddenness of Dyga's announcement caught the commission flat-footed. Novy said a search will have to be conducted _ possibly nationwide, as the last one was _ but details must be hammered out by the commission.

Human Resources Director Barbara Dupre said she might recommend that the commission hire an executive search firm. After Hetrick was fired, a search committee headed by Sheriff Tom Mylander screened applicants.

Dupre said she expects the process to take four to six months, possibly longer. That transition will likely create unnecessary stress for county employees at all levels, Robinson said.

"It's too soon to put the staff through that turmoil," she said.

But Public Works Director Charles Mixson said it might actually relax employees.

"I don't expect the bumpy period to be any bumpier than what we have gone through," he said. "I'm an optimist."