Chairman: Job should be full time

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chairman Bill Godwin said Wednesday he is exploring converting the job of county commission chairman to a fulltime position.

Godwin, who spoke at the Andalusia Lion’s Club, said, “After being in office for four months, and seeing how things operate…yes, I believe it should be a fulltime position,” Godwin said. “With the way the salary is structured, by the time you take travel pay and the salary, you could pay a fulltime (chairman).

“I’m still collecting and processing information, but (the move) is on my list,” he said. “I don’t know when it will come forward.”

According to the Association of County Commissioners, the salary for the Covington County Commission chairman is approximately $27,000, plus mileage and expenses. Commissioners are paid just over $21,000, plus mileage and expenses.

Godwin – who also stated he does not intend to seek a second term – said, “They keep reminding me that I (as chairman) should conduct the meeting and vote in case of a tie, but I don’t see it that way.

“My position is (the chairman) is the face of the county, and (he/she) should lead the county and try to show some kind of leadership to accomplish things,” he said. “The county is like a large ship. You can’t turn it on a dime. You have to turn it small degrees at a time to make it more effective.”

Godwin said he doesn’t share public opinion is that the county administrator “is running the county government,” and believes that is why a fulltime chairman is needed.

“You’ve got to have (a county administrator),” he said. “That person is essential, but you got to have it such as that person has to work in the background. That position needs to make the commissioners look good. You need someone out front – a chairman – that is accountable to the people because that is who is going to be voted on.”

Kylan Lewis, Godwin’s runoff opponent from the last election and Andalusia Lion’s Club member, disagreed with the need for a fulltime chairman.

“I have a different take, a different perspective,” Lewis said as a rebuttal. “The thing (for the commission) to do is hire professional people to do the work. Those people are trained to do the work. I think you are an excellent commissioner. I never diminished your capability during the election, and I wouldn’t do it now, but I ask you to visualize the situation where there is a person (in office) that is one-tenth as qualified as you are as chairman. If he’s on a fulltime basis and expected to run this county and keep those professionals in the background, that won’t work.”