CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County has a new administrator, as county council voted almost unanimously Tuesday to promote Steve Gosnell from interim to permanent administrator.
After months of debate before parting ways with the last administrator and a search ending in five candidates from across the state, Horry County Council chose to stick with the man who has helped run the county for more than two months. The controversy that started with council members shouting in public meetings ended in applause and a nearly unanimous vote.
After about an hour of private discussion in executive session, council members cast ballots and voted 11-1 in favor of Gosnell taking over the role permanently.
“Certainly, it’s a good feeling,” said Gosnell. “I’m glad council has confidence in me.”
Gosnell was picked over Laurens County Administrator William “Jon” Caime, senior vice president of Synovus Bank in Myrtle Beach and former Myrtle Beach city council member Wayne Gray and York County Manager William Shanahan. State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, withdrew before Tuesday’s vote.
Gosnell filled in after former administrator Chris Eldridge got a severance package in April. Several council members blamed Eldridge for his handling of an extortion attempt claim against an associate of chair Johnny Gardner.
Gosnell has worked for Horry County for 26 years and says his experience with how the county runs will help him.
“My first step is to get my staff in place and we’ll start the business of county government,” Gosnell said. “Change is always good and that’s what we’re going to be continuing, as I have in my career, looking to how we can make things better, provide a better service to the citizens.
Gardner posted on Facebook last month, accusing several on council of “effectively attempting a coup” to make Gosnell permanent administrator. Gardner says he wrote the post because he wanted to make sure the hiring process was complete.
He also says the post was not a criticism of Gosnell.
“He has done a wonderful job since he’s been interim,” said Gardner. “He served as interim (administrator) prior. I have a great relationship with Mr. Gosnell. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Johnny Vaught, a council member representing the Forestbrook area, said before the vote that making Gosnell the permanent administrator would be the best way forward.
“It’s been so tumultuous with all the things going on and all the rumors going on and it’s time for us to get back to work,” Vaught says. “I really feel like it’s time to get back to work and that’s why I’m such a proponent of Mr. Gosnell. He’s ready to go to work, he’s already working.”
The county and Gosnell will now have to negotiate a new contract. Council formed a committee to negotiate the terms of that contract.
Gardner says he hopes the deal will be finalized at next month’s meeting.