DeLand, FL - It's been a hot topic in Volusia County since Jim Dinneen walked away from the County Manager job with hundreds of thousands of dollars last summer despite calls for him to be fired with cause.
Now the Volusia County Council wants the man who used to be Dinneen's second-in-command as his permanent replacement.
George Recktenwald is in line for the job after the Volusia County Council voted unanimously to enter contract negotiations with him during this morning's (January 22nd) meeting.
Volusia County Council Chair Ed Kelley made the motion soon after the topic came up, saying he was pleased that Recktenwald - who has worked in county government for 20 years - changed his mind about taking on the job permanently after initially agreeing to fill in for Dinneen on the condition that he wasn't the permanent choice.
"It took some convincing for me to convince him to even be the interim back in June last year," Kelley noted.
Heather Post - whose District 4 covers the Ormond Beach area - also backed Recktenwald, admitting that there was "no way in hell" she would have backed him in the immediate wake of Dinneen's resignation.
"I have to say, George, from day one, the communication was a one-eighty," Post added. "You routinely meet with me, which is fabulous."
Post was the VCC member who called for Dinneen's firing just before he resigned in June, saying that he was insubordinate towards the Council and questioning his handling of several departments, notably emergency services and the medical examiner's office.
Also in her corner was Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who thinks Dinneen was one of many complicit in burying a 2016 county-funded study which called for real estate developers to pay significantly more in impact fees for new roads and utilities.
At-Large Representative Ben Johnson - who worked with Dinneen and Recktenwald when he was Volusia County Sheriff - said it made sense to give Recktenwald the job now instead of having a search firm the county already hired find someone new.
"You can end up with an individual who doesn't have a clue about Volusia County," Johnson stated. "It takes them two years' time just to find out where all the restrooms are in the county's buildings."
Slavin Management - the Georgia-based headhunting firm hired by the VCC last November to vet candidates for the County Manager job - could be used instead to find people to fill numerous current and pending vacancies within county government, per Kelley.
Speaking after the vote, Recktenwald thanked the Council for having "faith and confidence" in him.
"Over the last six months, the landscape has changed," Recktenwald added. "In working with all of you and the people in the community, that's what's really made me confident that we can really do great things."
Today's decision allows Kelley and Volusia County Attorney Dan Eckert to negotiate a contract with Recktenwald. Once that's agreed upon, it will need to go in front of the VCC for a final vote at a future meeting. That could happen as soon as the next meeting on February 5th.