Broad Search Could Have Benefitted County


At times, it seems Worcester County and Ocean City governments intentionally operate in the complete opposite fashion from the other.

The latest example is with word Chief Administrative Officer Gerry Mason will be retiring this summer and that the county will forgo an extensive national search and instead promote Finance Officer Harold Higgins to be Mason’s replacement. It now appears Higgins’ vacancy in the finance office will be filled through an internal promotion as well.

This is an interesting way to go about filling the county’s chief executive officer’s post. There are two clearly unique ways to think about this decision.

On one hand, conducting a national search through either the county’s Human Resources Department or an outside firm would have brought in dozens of qualified hopefuls with experience from other areas of the country. It would allow the county to get a broad picture of outside management applicants while also reviewing any internal candidates who were interested.

By going the internal route and promoting Higgins, the County Commissioners have saved the time and expenses associated with reaching out to other candidates and have assured fluidity to how the county is governed.

Higgins is surely qualified to fill Mason’s seat, but the county should have conducted a national search to fill its most important government post. With Higgins, the county is going to get someone with a similar financial background to Mason and a department head who made it clear this week he admires his current boss and seems to want to emulate him.

We think Worcester County should have conducted a search similar to what Ocean City did when its city manager seat became vacant. While that was a bumpy process, thanks largely to a lame-brained decision by a former council member to call one of the finalists and subsequently compromise his confidentiality, it did give the city a handful of qualified and experienced city managers to choose from.

Ocean City officials have clearly decided national search processes are how they prefer to handle high-profile job vacancies, particularly department heads. Recent hires made after national searches include the new special events director and the soon-to-be-filled police chief. Only with the communications manager, Jessica Waters, did the town promote from within, as Waters held a similar post with the Ocean City Police Department previously and the Recreation and Parks Department previously.

In Worcester County’s case, in typical fashion, Mason’s retirement and Higgins’ promotion was orchestrated and conducted behind closed doors before the public ever even knew Mason was retiring. Clearly, the plan was for Mason to announce his retirement and then a few days later for Higgins to be announced through a press release as his replacement.

We would have preferred to see a national search take place and then if Higgins was still the front runner for him to be promoted. That was not how it played out, and the county is no worse because of it, but change is sometimes good, and we think it was an avenue deserving of pursuing.

5 thoughts on “Broad Search Could Have Benefitted County

  1. You couldn’t be wronger Steve. One you forgot Ocean City hired the City Clerk from within. That’s a high profile position. She is doing great. We also tried to give our best inside guy a chance. Hale Adkins for the City Manager’s Job. Some of you elite council member’s you support wouldn’t even give him the respect of a sit down interview walking out on him. While as for the police chiefs job. If you think my phone call was lame brain. What your boys are doning in chief police search over the top. You should do some of your own homework. Going outside can be worthy cause. Hiring from within gives confidence in your home team. To think outsider’s know better than home grown speaks volumes about how you feel about our local talent. Blue ribbon school system can produce good enough management people. Steve your way off. I believe in buy local, and hire local whenever you can.

  2. You couldn’t be righter Steve. The goal is to hire the most qualified person for the position. A national search brings a diverse applicant pool,and the home team is welcome to apply. Worcester County needs a fresh set of eyes.

  3. Where was Mr. Hall educated? Horrible grammar, spelling, and structure. Good thing you were not reelected to the Council.

  4. I thought the Ghost from Christmas Past only spoke during the December timeframe????

    Go back into your hole groundhog!


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