GRU GM Picked, Again
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Almost 11 months to the day after the Gainesville City Commission picked Andy Ramirez to be the next General Manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities, they have a new top choice. Negotiations with Ramirez broke down over salary... and the search had to be restarted when there was no suitable backup when Ramirez backed out.
Monday, the commissioners all commented at the outset that it was good pool with plenty of strong candidates to choose from. But they did lament that Hugh Smith, the man many thought may have been the strongest candidate of all, took his name out of the hat.
That left six men on the ballot to choose from. The only man that was picked by all the commissioners in the first two votes ended up being the top choice in the third and final vote...Robert Hunzinger. For the last four years he was the General Manager of an Owensboro, Kentucky public utility, though he left in September and is currently serving as a consultant.
Several commissioners remarked Hunzinger sneaked up on them originally; but they were impressed by his preparedness and knowledge. In the end he received 5 of 7 first-place votes.
"He is a very low-key personality, very easygoing," says Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan. "He sort of gave a self-description as very easy to work with. He's an engineer so he comes with that technical background. He's overseen retrofit projects like we have underway at Deerhaven."
Herman Morris received the other two first-place votes from Commissioners Ed Braddy and Scherwin Henry. But Braddy said it was splitting hairs.
As far as salary goes, commissioners hope it will work out better this time. The GRU job listed a range of 180 to 225-thousand dollars. Hunzinger's current salary is 140-thousand dollars.
Hanrahan says she planned to contact Hunzinger Monday. If she gets her way, there will be a contract agreed to before Christmas.