Will Laurens County be seeking a new administrator?
RELATED ARTICLE ATTACHED: Jon Caime, the administrator of Laurens County, is identified in a published report as 1 of 3 top candidates for a similar job in Oconee County.
The Top 3 finalists - which must be disclosed under state law - are Caime, Les Blakenship & Michael R. Renshaw, according to the Seneca newspaper's website. Laurens County County has an "Employment Matter - Public Works Director" listed on its closed session agenda last night (Oct. 9). The Council also met in closed session Monday afternoon (Oct. 8) to discuss "employment matters," according to an agenda sent by the county administration.
There was no mention of Caime seeking a new job after the Laurens County Council executive session Tuesday night.
Oconee County Council made the disclosure of its 3 finalists Tuesday morning, the published report said.
County announces top 3 admin candidates
By Caitlin Herrington
WALHALLA — Oconee County Council named the three candidates for the vacant administrator position on Tuesday morning as the county moves toward finding a permanent replacement for interim administrator Rick Martin.
The candidates are Les Blankenship, Jon Caime and Michael R. Renshaw.
A former attorney, Blankenship has been serving as the deputy county supervisor for Berkeley County since March 2015. His time in the Lowcountry has been highlighted by $250 million in road improvements and $300 million in water and sewer capital programs, according to his resume. A 2008 graduate of the Charleston School of Law, Blankenship’s resume also includes stints in information technology and teaching at the Charleston School of Law and University of North Carolina.
Caime, a Clemson University graduate, is the current administrator in Laurens County. Previously serving in the same position in Hart County, Ga., Caime made the move to Laurens County in May 2016, where his resume indicates an emphasis on internal reorganization and community development. While in Hart County, Caime oversaw the reengineering of community-wide economic development strategies. He previously worked in Oconee County from 1997-2001 in a role similar to an assistant administrator position.
Renshaw is a former police officer and current manager of Barrow County, Ga., a position he has held since May 2016. He has previous management experience with stints in Camden County, N.C., and Grantville, Ga. Renshaw holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Arizona State University, which he earned in 2001, according to his resume. Throughout his career, Renshaw has worked in code enforcement, implemented evaluation mechanisms and worked with community groups for long-term planning.
Blankenship said his law career involved a few visits to the Upstate, and both he and Renshaw said they have vacationed in the area to take advantage of its natural resources.
“I’ve visited Oconee several times and I just fell in love with the area,” Blankenship said. “The beauty of the place, the recreation opportunities, the lakes, the trails — it all has a small-town feel, and I’m kind of a small-town guy myself.”
Renshaw said he applied for the assistant administrator position when it was open in 2011 and is “really excited about the opportunity” to work in an area that he and his family love to visit on vacation.
Caime, on the other hand, said he knows the county intimately after raising his family here. His venture down from the Northeast to attend Clemson University turned into a permanent stay when he met his wife.
“Oconee has a way of pulling you back in,” Caime said. “So it’s always been an interest of mine to come back — it’s home.”
All three candidates spoke highly of the area and have kept up with county council events in recent weeks, noting it’s important to embrace different opinions.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to know there’s never constant consensus,” Renshaw said.
Caime said local governments should “embrace opposing opinions,” and Blankenship noted that Oconee County has made steady forward movement with a healthy dose of differing viewpoints.
The three men all see aging infrastructure as a priority in Oconee County, with Renshaw noting road maintenance is a large factor in serving the current population while planning for future growth.
Caime said retaining Oconee’s bright young minds would be a priority for him if selected.
“We’re losing some of our best and brightest. Our kids are going away,” he said, adding his three children all graduated from Seneca High School before moving out of the area. “The young have left for better and brighter places. … The demographics are getting older, and that’s something we need to take a good, hard look at for long-range planning.”
Blankenship said the biggest concern for the county should be public safety — though he’s adamant true priorities for the administrator should come from the county’s constituents.
“Really, in my mind, priorities are not up to the administrator — it’s up to the council,” he said. “They’re elected to council to represent the people, and it should really be up to the council. But, for me, the very first focus is always public safety. That’s the No. 1 responsibility and obligation any government owes to its citizens.”
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Jon Caime Is County Administrator Pick