Conway, SC - CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County Council members spent six hours Monday interviewing candidates and going over what they would be looking for in the next person to lead the county's top position.
Council members interviewed current acting administrator and county attorney, John Weaver, and former Oconee County Administrator Dale Surrett. Topics ranged from county needs like public safety and infrastructure needs to how to improve economic development and personal questions about leadership styles and management philosophies.
Both tend to agree that public safety and infrastructure are the biggest issues that face local government, and they're services that the public expects. Both differed on how they'd work to improve economic development.
Weaver says that economic development has to be pursued on a regular basis, and that the county should look at having one person in one organization working to solicit businesses here and promote Horry County. He says that the airport maybe the most valuable opportunity Horry County has to grow the economy.
Surrett says that the county needs to diversify the economy and not rely on tourism, noting that agriculture maybe a good area for Horry County to look at expanding to.
Both were asked about leadership styles. Weaver, who has worked with the county the past 10 years, was asked about some personal instances with county council. Councilman Jody Prince asked him about an instance where Weaver encouraged a citizen to sue the county.
"They had a case and could have probably won," Weaver responded.
Surrett was asked about why he was let go from Oconee County. Horry County Councilman Howard Barnard, asked specifically about articles he's read in a local newspaper in that part of the state that suggested Surrett lost confidence by the council and the public. Surrett says the ouster from Oconee County was a simple change in political leadership by the elected officials.
Overall, Horry County Council members agree that they asked the candidates some tough questions, but the day was very informative. Many of them hope to narrow down who'll get the job.
"There were tough questions from candidates; there were concerns from council members. So it's going to be interesting," said Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland. "I think every one of us hopes we can come to a conclusion this time."
Councilman Bob Grabowski added, "They were asked very tough questions and I think what impressed me about both of them - I didn't see either one of them break a sweat. They just went right into it so these are definitely the kind of people we want to run county government."
Weaver would not agree to taking the job without a contract, while Surrett says he would take the job and work day-to-day for the county.
County Council plans to take a vote between the two at the regularly scheduled meeting on April 6.