Caulder accepts position of Fairfield interim admin

Caulder to Receive Annual Salary of $125K for up to 6 months

WINNSBORO – The majority 4 on Fairfield County Council voted Thursday, June 3, to hire Brad Caulder, their sixth choice, for interim administrator. The vote came following a five minute executive session during a special called meeting. Caulder is the county’s director of Human Resources. He did not attend the meeting.

Caulder

The Voice obtained a copy of Caulder’s contract with the county through a Freedom of Information request. The contract, which takes effect June 7, calls for Caulder to serve as interim administrator on a month to month basis, up to six months, and receive a base annual salary of $125,000.

Caulder said in an interview with The Voice, that he would continue to work in his office in the Human Resources department during his time as interim admin and would not be moving into Former County Administrator Jason Taylor’s office.

A stand for Johnson

Before the vote for Caulder, Councilman Neil Robinson made a motion to hire Fairfield’s assistant county administrator Laura Johnson as the interim administrator.

“I think we’re at a stage right now…I believe she’s the one to carry the torch forward,” Robinson said. Following the meeting, Robinson cited Johnson’s years of experience with the county and her overall role and expertise in assisting Taylor run the county for the last two years.

Johnson, a CPA and former finance director of the county, retired Friday, June 4, the last full day Taylor said he would be in the county offices before moving into the town manager’s job at the Town of Winnsboro.

Johnson and Taylor are two of several top county officials who were pushed out by the majority 4 since January.

Council voted 3-4 against hiring Johnson, with the majority 4 – Moses Bell, Mikel Trapp, Tim Roseborough and Shirley Greene – voting against. Council members Robinson, Douglas Pauley and Clarence Gilbert voted for Johnson.

After Trapp made the motion to hire Caulder, Pauley proposed an amendment to the motion.

That amendment called for Caulder’s appointment to be for no more than a three-month period and for Caulder to be allowed to transfer back into the role of Human Resources Director following the three months.

Pauley said following the meeting that he, Gilbert and Robinson hoped such an amendment would protect Caulder’s job until he gets back to it.

Alluding to the majority 4’s penchant for government secrecy, Pauley also stipulated in his motion that, during the period Fairfield County has an interim administrator, any communications initiated to the interim administrator by a member of Council, including the Chair and Vice Chair, be in email format, and that all other Council members be copied on the email.

 “While I am hesitant to hire someone for the position of interim administrator who does not have extensive local government organization leadership experience,” Pauley said, “we need to do what is best for Fairfield County right now and we need to have an interim administrator by tomorrow according to state law. I think the best we can do tonight, considering the circumstances, is to hire a person we know to be intelligent and ethical. I believe Mr. Caulder to be both,” Pauley said.

Pauley said the focus must now be shifted to hiring an eminently qualified permanent administrator.

“We have no time to waste in doing that. I think three months is a reasonable timeline,” Pauley said. He called for stability and for no individual council members to attempt to micro-manage the interim administrator.

“If this amendment passes, I will vote to appoint Mr. Caulder as the interim administrator. If the amendment fails, I will not be able to vote in favor of the appointment,” Pauley said.

The amendment failed 3-4 with Pauley, Robinson and Gilbert voting for the amendment. Bell, Trapp, Roseborough and Greene voted against.

Council authorized Bell and the county attorney, Charles Boykin, to negotiate a contract with Caulder.

Bell said Caulder has experience in human resources and public works.

“What we’re doing tonight is a very innovative approach,” Bell said. “We believe this move will allow us to gain more depth in our organization, and it creates a significant alternative long term.”

No one will be hired to carry out Caulder’s duties in human resources while he serves as interim administrator.

Following the meeting, Caulder said in a phone interview with The Voice, “We will work as a team to continue to provide services for the citizens.”

Squirewell retreats

Michael Squirewell, a candidate interviewed on June 1 at the same meeting Caulder was interviewed for the Fairfield County’s interim administrator’s job, notified Council Chairman Moses Bell in an email on June 2 that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the position.

Squirewell spoke with The Voice to confirm that he is no longer a candidate for the job.

“Upon arrival for the interview [Tuesday evening], I was informed by a council member that you had decided who you were going to hire before the interview began,” Squirewell wrote in the email to Bell.

In an interview with The Voice, Squirewell said that while he appreciated that council was going to continue to interview him tonight, he would have appreciated it more had he received prior notice that he was out of the running.

Squirewell told The Voice that he was under the impression that he was seriously being considered and did not know that council had interviewed another candidate after he (Squirewell) left the interview.

Caulder was interviewed in executive session separate from Squirewell on Tuesday night, according to sources and was subsequently hired on June 3. Bell was reached for comment, but said he couldn’t talk at the time, but would call back. At press time, he had not returned the call.

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