DADE CITY - County Administrator Michele Baker said she's in no hurry to hire a new chief assistant county administrator - the job she held for six years.
Rather, her first priority is to hire a replacement for Bipin Parikh, the county's longtime administrator for development services. Parikh, who retired May 1, was one of former Administrator John Gallagher's first hires in 1982 and a part of his inner circle of advisers.
Parikh oversaw multiple divisions, including planning and development, central permitting, zoning, engineering and public works. The position originally was posted in late 2012.
"It's such an important position," Baker said. "We had hoped to hire someone before Bipin retired, and we were in the process of doing that."
But she said Gallagher pulled the plug on the process, deciding that the new county administrator should have the freedom to assemble his or her own team. "We thought that was going to be Tommy (Gonzalez)," Baker said.
Gonzalez, city manager of Irving, Texas, was the commission's first choice to replace Gallagher.
However, he turned down the offer, and commissioners offered the position to Baker.
She has reposted the Development Services position and will take her time before crafting a job description for a chief assistant.
Baker said she doesn't want a clone of herself.
"I need to find someone who has the skills that will really complement my own," she said.