Whitaker finalist for Chester city administrator position

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CHESTER – The City of Chester has released the names of four finalists for its vacant city administrator position. The job has been open since March and is presently being filled on an interim basis by Ed Driggers.

One of the four finalists is the embattled administrator for Fairfield County, Malik Whitaker, whose contract with Fairfield County is ending Dec. 31, 2022.

Whitaker was hired by unanimous vote of the Fairfield County Council last December with a one-year contract.

During Fairfield County Council’s Monday night meeting, council voted 3-2 to extend Whitaker’s contract for another year. Councilmen Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert voted against the contract.

Pauley went further.

“I understand that one council cannot bind another and, therefore, come Jan. 1, 2023, the administrator will be on a day to day employment basis regardless of what contract might be entered in to today.”

With Pauley and Gilbert recently re-elected to their district seats and two others newly elected to the 7-member council, the balance of power on Fairfield county council is expected to change when the new council is seated Jan. 1, 2023.

Asked on Tuesday if he was aware Whitaker had applied for the Chester position, Pauley said he had not.

“I knew nothing about it,” Pauley said. “But I wish him the best.”

Whitaker has received frequent criticism during his tenure at Fairfield, including the management of a $50K non-lawsuit settlement with a former Fairfield employee without the involvement of the Association of County’s legal assistance. He has also been slow recently to release both citizen and employee surveys that were critical of his management of the county, and he has been criticized by Pauley and Gilbert for approving mult-million dollar bids for the county and signing construction contracts without the knowledge/approval of council.

The other finalists are: Tiffany Cooks of Kingstree, SC., Kenneth B. Geathers, Jr. of Hickory, NC., and Christine Keefer of Blythewood.

Cooks, presently a resident of Kingstree,   is the county supervisor for Williamsburg County, a position she has held since 2019.

Geathers most recently served as the interim finance director of the Town of Maiden, NC.

Keefer is currently self-employed as an independent consultant providing administrative and communication services to public and private entities.

Whitaker, who reports that he lives in Ridgeway, previously has served as the Operations and Management Consultant Manager for the Florida Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee, FL, from 2020 to 2021; the Director of Policy and Continuous Quality Improvement for the SC Department of Social Services, 2015 to 2020, and Regional Human Services Director, 2012 to 2015; Project Lead for Communities in School of the Midlands, 2011 to 2012; Program Director for United Way of the Midlands, 2007 to 2011; Research Associate for Benedict College, 2003 to 2007; and Assistant Zoning Administrator for Richland County, 1997 to 2003. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a law degree.

The City anticipates having a new city administrator on board in January, 2023.

sently being filled on an interim basis by Ed Driggers. 

One of the four finalists is the embattled administrator for Fairfield County, Malik Whitaker, whose contract with Fairfield County is ending Dec. 31, 2022. 

Whitaker was hired unanimously by Fairfield County Council last December with a one-year contract. 

During Monday night’s council meeting, it was announced that council members voted 3-2 to extend his contract for another year. Councilmen Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert voted against the contract. 

Pauley went further.

“I understand that one council cannot bind another and, therefore, come Jan. 1, 2023, the administrator will be on a day-to-day employment basis regardless of what contract might be entered into today,” Pauley said.

With Pauley and Gilbert recently re-elected to their district seats and two others newly elected to the 7-member council, the balance of power on Fairfield county council is expected to change when the new council is seated Jan. 1, 2023.

Asked if he had been made aware that Whitaker was applying for the Chester position, Pauley said he had not.

“I knew nothing about it,” Pauley said. “But I wish him the best.”

Whitaker has received frequent criticism during his tenure at Fairfield, including the management of a $50K non-lawsuit settlement with a former Fairfield employee without the involvement of the Association of County’s legal assistance. He has also been slow recently to release both citizen and employee survey responses that were critical of his management of the county, and he has been criticized by Pauley and Gilbert for approving mult-million-dollar bids for the county and signing construction contracts without bringing them to council first for approval.

Whitaker, who reports that he lives in Ridgeway, previously served as the Operations and Management Consultant Manager for the Florida Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee, FL, from 2020 to 2021; served as the Director of Policy and Continuous Quality Improvement for the SC Department of Social Services, 2015 to 2020, and Regional Human Services Director, 2012 to 2015; Project Lead for Communities in School of the Midlands, 2011 to 2012; Program Director for United Way of the Midlands, 2007 to 2011; Research Associate for Benedict College, 2003 to 2007; and Assistant Zoning Administrator for Richland County, 1997 to 2003.  His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science; and a law degree.

The other finalists for the Chester position are: Tiffany Cooks of Kingstree, SC., Kenneth B. Geathers, Jr. of Hickory, NC., and Christine Keefer of Blythewood.

Cooks is presently a resident of Kingstree. Her present position is the county supervisor for Williamsburg County, a position she has held since 2019.

Geathers most recently served as the interim finance director of the Town of Maiden, NC.

Keefer is self-employed as an independent consultant providing administrative and communication services to public and private entities

The City anticipates having a new City Administrator on board in January, 2023.

This story was updated on Nov. 30, 2022 at 4:14 p.m.

Comments

  1. Mike Bell says

    I hope city of Chester hires him today! I think he would do a great job for them. All Fairfield residents should wrote him letter of recommendation!

  2. His third job in three years! He would leave behind a record of shameless contempt for the public, undeterred insubordination, a shameless sense of “self” before service, and a humiliating ignorance of public policy. I wish the good folks of Chester well.

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