WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners have decided to seek new candidates for the human resources director post after two of the final three candidates dropped out of consideration.
Commissioners Frank Fuda and Mauro Cantalamessa both said they will place advertisements for the position as soon as possible.
Fuda noted the remaining applicant from the current pool will be kept on record when the next round of applicants are considered.
At one point, the commissioners had about 57 people who had applied.
That number was narrowed after the commissioners created a panel that reviewed all of the applications and delivered six candidates to the three commissioners in May for interviewing.
“Two of the three individuals we were considering declined to pursue the position because they did not have interest in the position,” Cantalamessa said.
Commissioner Niki Frenchko in May argued the commissioners should have sought new applicants at that time.
Frenchko, at the time, noted she did not believe the commissioners properly advertised the position because the county did not put the advertisement in the area newspaper of record, or ensure that minority populations were aware of the open job positions.
But she suggested she would have been fine with hiring either of the final two candidates.
“Yes, I wanted more diversity, but they were qualified,” she said. “I believe the final candidate is professional and has a no-nonsense approach.”
Fuda said the commissioners decided they want to advertise regionally, so they can get someone from outside the area who may be interested.
“We have to get someone that will do the job properly,” Fuda said. “And work for three commissioners.”
Richard Jackson, the former HR director, retired in February. He had several clashes with Frenchko.
In January 2021, Jackson was given a two-day suspension and a 15-day suspension after he used the word “queens” to refer to some staff members, something with which Frenchko took issue, and for telling Frenchko not to get “hot and bothered” during a heated exchange.
In August, Cantalamessa and Fuda rescinded that suspension during a meeting while Frenchko was on vacation.
Frenchko called for Jackson to be punished or fired for “insubordination” among other issues in June 2021, after numerous negative encounters between the two in public meetings. At the time, Frenchko accused Jackson of facilitating complaints against her and not taking enough initiative in his position.
Fuda on Thursday the commissioners want to work as quickly as possible in getting a new human resources director. “We can’t keep working like this,” he noted.
Also Thursday, Fuda and Cantalamessa emphasized to Tonya J. Rogers — whose law firm Baker, Dublikar is reviewing all American Rescue Plan applications given to it by the county — that Assistant Prosecutor James Misocky is the county’s point person when it comes to ARP applications.
“Everything should go through Jim,” Fuda said. “You (Rogers) should not be dealing with others in the county without being given authorization.”
Rogers noted she will not research projects unless she knows the majority of the commissioners have agreed there is an interest.
“It does not have to be a formal vote,” she said. “You can have an informal discussion during a meeting in which you discuss whether the county is interested in pursuing a goal using the ARP funds.”
Cantalamessa said approximately $3 million of the county’s $38 million in ARP money has been allocated.
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