When Gary Kuhl packed his office three months ago and walked away from the job of Hernando County administrator, he was frustrated that residents could find nothing but fault in local government.
He had had enough, he said, of the criticisms, the negative attitudes, the attacks on his integrity and that of his staff.
Now, it seems, he may be ready to get back into the fray.
Kuhl's name is being tossed around as the possible heir apparent to the county administrator's position in neighboring Citrus County, where he had served in the position in the late 1990s.
June Fisher, Citrus County administrator of the last 16 months, is expected to be named the director of community services in Highlands County today. Citrus County Commissioner Gary Bartell said Monday that he will support hiring Kuhl as the new administrator if Fisher resigns.
Bartell said he has talked to Kuhl about the job, and while Kuhl is enjoying his new job as public works director in Sumter County, he did express interest in the Citrus job if commissioners seemed interested in him.
Kuhl said Monday that he would be "open to hearing what the conversation might be,'' in Citrus. But he wouldn't say more out of respect for Fisher's position and the decisions Citrus commissioners would have to make if she resigns.
Bartell and Commissioner Vicki Phillips were both on the board when Kuhl was Citrus administrator from 1997 to 2000. He had also previously been public works director in Citrus and he lives in Floral City.
Bartell said Kuhl, 60, would be a good choice because he knows the county, he knows the job -because he did it before - and he could come on board quicker than if the county did a full-blown applicant search. With budget issues looming now that Amendment 1 has passed, Bartell said that quick action would be helpful.
Phillips said of Kuhl that he was "a very nice man, a perfect gentleman, a good engineer, an excellent public works director and he was a good administrator.''
But she also said the county needs to follow through with its usual process. That means waiting to see what happens with Fisher. If she resigns and the commission accepts, then commissioners need to pick an interim administrator and decide where to go from there.
"I've really thought about this,'' she said. "It's an election year and that makes everyone go crazy. If we hire before the primary is over'' the administrator could be chosen by people who are no longer commissioners.
"We need to put the job out for applications,'' said Commissioner John Thrumston, who has met Kuhl only a couple of times. "I don't see why we wouldn't do that.''
Commissioner Joyce Valentino said she understood that Kuhl had turned down the job of assistant administrator in Citrus recently. Valentino said she would be comfortable seeing the current assistant, Roger Pulley, who has been on the job about a month, promoted to administrator. Then Citrus could look again for a new assistant.
Commissioner Dennis Damato said he planned to listen to what other commissioners who worked with Kuhl before said about him. "I really don't know how it's going to play out,'' he said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.