County manager field narrowed to two

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Henry County officials have announced two finalists for the position of county manager.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Tommy Smith said Monday morning that Cheri Matthews, currently the interim county manager, and Lyndon Bonner are the finalists. State law requires the county to wait at least 14 days from the announcement before making a decision, but Smith said it could take a few weeks longer than that.

Bonner was one of the three finalists for the same position in March of 2014, along with Jim Walker and Michael Harris. Walker got the job then and resigned after a little over a year. Harris is now city manager in Stockbridge.

Bonner has more than 20 years of government administration experience in rural communities and large urban jurisdictions. He was recently the city manager for North Miami Beach and has served other municipalities in Florida, including county administrator for Okeechobee County and interim assistant county administrator/special projects manager for Sumter County, as well as city manager in Bunnell and director of public services in Dunnellon.

Matthews has been with Henry County since 2002 in a variety of roles including department head and division director posts. She was assistant county manager during Walker’s tenure and was named interim county manager shortly after his departure.

The board convened a special called meeting the morning of Aug. 18 with the sole item on the agenda being an executive session to interview candidates for the county manager job.

A county official confirmed that four candidates were interviewed that day over a period of several hours.

Two days after that, District 5 Commissioner Bruce Holmes made his choice clear in a post on his Facebook page.

“The Henry County BOC recently interviewed our final four candidates. My initial thought was to be as objective as I possibly could while evaluating what I thought was a great group of potential county managers,” he wrote. “After all was said and done, I can honestly say that the cream truly rose to the top! Our own Cheri Matthews was by far the TOP candidate. We should have given her the job immediately!”

None of the other commissioners has commented publicly on the county manager position.