The five finalists for Horry County administrator seemed upbeat after last week’s interviews, even though the process didn’t go as advertised.

Initially billed as a public meeting, council members changed course at the meeting and voted 10-2 to hold the interviews in a closed-door session.

“It didn’t bother me either way,” said Jon Caime, Laurens County’s administrator. “I just think it’s an honor that council chose me to be one of the finalists.”

Council members plan to vote on hiring an administrator at their regular meeting Tuesday. During last week’s interviews, they spoke with Caime, former York County Manager Bill Shanahan, state Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, former Myrtle Beach City Councilman Wayne Gray and interim county administrator Steve Gosnell.

Caime said he’s pleased with his job in Laurens County, but he’s interested in the opportunity here. During his interview, Caime said he fielded questions from nearly every council member. They talked about subjects ranging from roads to fire protection to law enforcement.

“It went well,” he said. “It was a good conversation.”

Shanahan, whose six-year tenure managing York County ended Friday, also expressed optimism about his meeting with the council.

“It was a great interview,” he said. “I was really impressed with your council. They are very knowledgeable and they know what they’re looking for.”

Shanahan, who has been a finalist for administrator jobs in Beaufort and Richland counties, said Horry’s location appeals to him.

“Look at where it’s at and the amazing things that they’re doing,” he said. “Why would you not be interested in something like that?”

The other three candidates all live in Horry County, and the families of Clemmons and Gray have roots here dating back centuries.

Gray, whose background is in banking, said he learned about local government as a teenager when he would come to Horry County Planning Commission meetings with his father, who served on the commission.

“It just created a calling for local government service,” said Gray, who served on the city council for 16 years. “In any job or career path that you choose to take, you’ve got to have the desire and the passion and it just comes from a calling. ... I want to be a part of Team Horry.”

A real estate lawyer, Clemmons also touted his experience in public service. He’s served in the S.C. House of Representatives since 2003.

“I see it as service at a higher level,” he said of the county administrator job. “As I’ve watched and evaluated the strengths and the weaknesses of Horry County, I find that I have certain skills that I believe will help county council to lift Horry County.”

Clemmons highlighted his management skills.

If he does not become the county’s next administrator, Clemmons plans to seek another term in the State House.

“I will continue to serve the people of District 107 and continue the level of service that they’ve become accustomed to,” he said. “It has been and it is a singular life’s honor to be able to represent that district in the South Carolina House of Representatives.”

Gosnell, who has served as interim administrator since his predecessor Chris Eldridge stepped down in April, declined to comment on his interview.

The five finalists were chosen from a pool of 25 applicants who met the minimum qualifications for the job, according to county records.

Before the interviews, Gosnell had received the most support from council members. Eight of them listed him on their list of top five candidates and most had him at or near the top. Shanahan appeared on the lists of six council members and Caime made an appearance on five. Gray and Clemmons each made the list of three county officials, but Gray ranked higher than Clemmons on those assessments.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday inside the Horry County Government & Justice Center in Conway.

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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