JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The direction of the Jacksonville Port Authority is in question after its CEO jumped ship for another job. Paul Anderson turned in his resignation and will start his new job as CEO and executive Director of the Tampa Port Authority in January.
Roy Schleicher is temporarily taking over as the port's executive director but he is treating this as an extended job interview.
Jacksonville Port Authority board members voted unanimously Wednesday to name Schleicher interim Executive Director of JaxPort. Schleicher told board members that he does plan to apply for the job.
Schleicher worked his way up to executive vice president in his 12 years with JaxPort.
Board members wrestled with how to choose JaxPort's next CEO at a special meeting Wednesday morning. The majority favor hiring a national search firm, which could run upwards of $75,000. Former chairman Reginald Gaffney says the talent pool in Jacksonville is strong enough and recommended that the port does not spend the money in the process.
"I think it can be done in house,” said Gaffney. “I think we can save that $75,000. I'd rather take that, whatever it may cost, and give it to the city."
However, the current chair, Jim Citrano, disagrees. If JaxPort handles the hiring process, Citrano says all interested candidates would be made public. Citrano says that would keep some of the most qualified candidates from applying because it could jeopardize their current job.
“In order to get the best people you need to go through the search firm to give them the protection that they need to express their interest in the job. Public sector employment is very difficult because of that,” said Citrano.
With the port on course for change, Schleicher isn't treating his new role as a temporary effort.
“I'm going to put in the same effort forward being an interim as I would if I were CEO,” said Schleicher. “So, 110-percent is just the way we operate around here."
Board members will meet again in mid-January to discuss what search firm they will hire to help find JaxPort’s next CEO. Once an outside firm starts its search, it will take at least 90 days to create a short-list of candidates.