Group says no to Rusty Smith for Florence County administrator job

Tuesday afternoon, a group calling themselves "Concerned Citizens for Florence County" protested and picketed outside the Florence City/County Complex.

They braved the hot sun outside and carried signs that read "Not Rusty."

"Rusty Smith is not qualified to be county administrator. Florence County pays the money that we should get a qualified administrator with years of experience," said Murray Jordan.

Florence County is looking for a new administrator.

Current administrator, Richard Starks, is set to retire this fall.

NewsChannel 15 has learned about 50 people have applied for the job, including Florence County Council Chairman Rusty Smith.

The group is adamant that Smith should not get the job.

Jordan said, "This smacks of an impropriety. Council hiring the chairman of council to be the county administrator is just the good ole' boy thing to be done."

Council did it a few years back when they hired then councilman Joe King as administrator.

The Concerned Citizens Group says that doesn't need to happen again.

County Treasurer Dean Fowler supports the group's efforts for fair government.

"I think the people of Florence County are coming together to say we want our government back and they're really tired of seeing government just follow the same old pattern year after year after year, and the same people benefiting over and over from government," said Fowler.

The group is saying the buck stops here.

"We want to make sure that county council hires a county administrator who is totally qualified," said Jordan.

Rusty Smith wouldn't comment on the matter.

He's been on council for 24 years and has served as chairman for much of that time.

Smith is credited with bringing major industries to Florence County, including Nan Ya Plastics in Lake City.

An official on the selection committee for the Florence County administrator tells NewsChannel 15 they will select the best and most qualified person for the job.

He says there's a lot of speculation that Smith will automatically get the job, but that's not true.

The Chairman of Florence County Republican Party, Bill Pickle, wrote a letter to county council urging them to appoint an independent agency or committee to oversee the selection process.

Pickle says his party believes that all citizens of Florence County wish to have the best qualified candidate to lead Florence County into the future.