Politics & Government

Who will lead Beaufort County? Field for county administrator's post narrowed to two

Beaufort County Council
Beaufort County Council — Beaufort County government website

After a drawn-out process that left Beaufort County without a permanent administrator for 10 months, the position is closer to being filled with the announcement of two finalists.

Beaufort County Council on Monday unanimously selected William J. Shanahan Jr. and Alan Ours as the two candidates under consideration for the county's top job.

Shanahan is currently the county manager for South Carolina's York County. He is married and has a daughter who completed basic training for the U.S. Army on Tuesday.

Shanahan said he believes strong leadership grows from working well with others.

"I'm not always the smartest person in the room, but I rely on the experts around me," he said.

Ours holds the county administrator post in Glynn County, Ga., where he's worked for almost eight years. A self-proclaimed man of faith with 10 children and a wife of 35 years, he cites his budgetary and financial skills.

"My priority would be to improve residents' quality of life and ensure their services work efficiently and effectively," he said. "I'll work step-in-step with the council. They're elected, and I'm not."

District 7 County Councilman Mike Covert said Tuesday morning that council interviewed four candidates before narrowing the field to two.

District 8 County Councilman Rick Caporale said that an initial final group of six candidates saw two drop out and that Ours and Shanahan were selected as finalists out of the remaining four.

Both said it's important that the public gets a chance to meet and interact with the finalists before a decision is ultimately made.

Council has not set a firm deadline for either the public introduction of the candidates or a final vote.

Caporale said council plans to hold a meet and greet with the candidates within the next couple of weeks.

"We're going to approach the local chambers of commerce and host a small gathering with the candidates," he said. "But the decision really is the county council's to make."

The new administrator would begin work no later than two months after his acceptance.

In Beaufort County, the county administrator manages the county's day-to-day operations and implements policies and legislation enacted by the council.

The position has remained vacant since longtime county administrator Gary Kubic retired late last year. Kubic's last day on the job was Sept. 29.

An initial search to replace him concluded without a candidate council could agree on.

Deputy county administrator and special counsel Josh Gruber, who was among those interviewed in the first search, served as interim administrator after Kubic's departure.

But in spite of council's decision on the two new finalists, council Chairman Paul Sommerville continued Tuesday to express support for Gruber.

"I felt Gruber was the best candidate," Sommerville said. "Hopefully we'll see these candidates the way everyone else does, though we're still taking a look at them."

In May, Gruber announced his departure from county government to become the deputy town administrator on Hilton Head Island. He begins that job Aug. 6.