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Stewart drops out of running for job in South Carolina

By Staff | Nov 18, 2009

CONWAY, S.C. — The Horry County Council voted Tuesday in a 6-6 tie between the two remaining candidates for the Horry County administrator’s position.
One of the three finalists for the position, former Cape Coral City Manager Terry Stewart, dropped out of the running only a few hours before the council was scheduled to vote.
The Horry County Council adjourned to an executive session to discuss the tied vote.
“I would hate for all our work and time to go for nothing,” Chairwoman Liz Gilland said before the adjournment.
The council came out of the session and voted to go to a new set of candidates from the executive search firm The Mercer Group Inc.
Gilland said the tied-vote finalists, interim Horry County Administrator and County Attorney John Weaver and Duncan Ballantyne, a former county administrator for Martin County, Fla., will not be eligible for the second round.
Stewart told the The Mercer Group Inc. that he was uncomfortable with how his interview went Monday, and that he is sensitive to the Freedom of Information Act open meetings requirements that may have been violated and any possible repercussions.
An e-mail went out to the council members from the council clerk Tuesday afternoon, alerting them that Stewart had withdrawn by calling Jim Mercer, president of the search firm.
“I’m a little disappointed, but we still have two good candidates to choose from. It is my hope that we will choose an administrator tonight,” Councilman Bob Grabowski said.
Stewart had a tough interview with the council Monday, starting by fielding questions about his recent resignation as city manager of Cape Coral. The conversation got heated with at least one council member during a question about zero-based budgeting.
“When you come to an interview you make sure you look your best and you’re on your game, but you also expect those doing the interviewing to be showing their best as well, and I don’t think all of us did that yesterday,” Gilland said.
Stewart’s wife said Tuesday afternoon that Stewart was en route to Florida and was not available by phone.
Cape Coral Assistant City Manager Carl Schwing was named interim city manager in the wake of Stewart’s resignation. Schwing’s salary is $142,000 a year.
Several candidates have shown interest in the position, though the Cape Coral City Council has not made any decisions on how to best pursue a new city manager.
Former Mayor Eric Feichthaler, businessman Gary King and former Mayor Arnold Kempe have shown interest in varying degrees.

Claudia Lauer is a staff writer for The Sun News. Contact clauer@thesunnews.com.
Drew Winchester, a staff writer for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze, contributed to this report. Contact dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com.