Opinion

Could we find someone who’ll stick around?

We’re not sure whether it’s simply ironic or somewhat troubling that a pair of stories in a recent issue of the Independent noted the retirements of both County Auditor and Administrative Services Director Ben Holland.

It’s no reflection on either person, but what caught our eye was that Flynn, an elected official required to face the voters every four years, had been serving in her post since disco was blaring from your Gremlin’s AM radio, while Holland has been on the job for only four years.

You’d think it would be the other way around, with more turnover among the politicians than the career bureaucrats, but Kitsap seems to have its share of problems keeping staffers on the job lately.

Holland is just the latest in a seemingly never-ending stream of high-profile department heads whose tenure on the job was a few years or less, and in this case the county has decided to retain an executive search firm to assist in the search for his replacement — a strategy that history has shown doesn’t necessarily increase the odds of finding someone who’ll be with us a while.

In recent years the county retained an outside head hunter to rescruit directors for its departments of Community Development and Parks and Recreation. Neither of those hired to fill either vacancy lasted more than a few months.

When replacements were needed for both positions, the county relied on its internal personnel resources, and the individuals hired have been on the job for more than a year — which isn’t all that much by itself, but at least it’s an improvement.

In the latest case, finding a replacement for Holland, the county commissioners approved using a Seattle-based executive recruiting firm — at a cost of up to $30,000 — based on the belief that recent budget and staffing cuts have rendered Kitsap’s in-house personnel department incapable of conducting a sufficiently thorough search.

As admirable a goal as it may be to conduct an exhaustive, nationwide search for a new administrative services director, though, you’d think the job could probably be done a lot cheaper than $30,000 — particularly when the result is someone who only stays on the job a few months or a couple of years at most, which then necessitates undertaking the entire expensive process all over again.

At $30,000 a throw, let’s just say we encourage county officials to put a greater emphasis on retainability for whichever candidate they and their employment consultant select this time around — which means finding someone with a history of job stability rather than someone whose track record suggests he or she is only using Kitsap County as a stepping stone to something bigger or better.

They might also want to consider someone who’s more than a couple of years away from retirement.

We think Kitsap County should have high standards because we believe this community deserves the very best when it comes to those in leadership positions. But we’d consider setting our sights a smidgen lower if it means not having to spend tens of thousands of dollars every year replacing people who for whatever reason weren’t long-term players to begin with.

T he organizers of this year’s Seagull Calling Contest have added a new twist to event — a wing cook-off — and we think it sounds like a fun idea.

Like most who hear about it, we thought at first they meant seagull wings — which has about as much appeal as road kill. But thankfully, the cooks will substitute chicken in their creations.

Just make sure everyone knows that, please.

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