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Three finalists have been shortlisted for the City of Pensacola’s first of two potential assistant city administrator positions, PIO Vernon Stewart told The Pulse this morning. The finalists are James Labar, Casey Street, and Keith Wilkins. “Interviews have been completed and a decision will be made soon,” said Stewart.

Stewart initially named five finalists, though he later confirmed that two of the five, Helen Dey Valdez and Terrence Neuzil, had withdrawn their names from consideration.

Two high-level administrative positions — one focusing on operations, the other on policy and support — were advertised shortly after former Chief Operating Officer Tamara Fountain resigned in August. However, Stewart says that City officials have decided to hire just one person at this time. “As of right now, we are hiring only one individual for the policy and support position,” said Stewart. “Thereafter, we will onboard them then reassess our needs and make further decisions from there if we still wish to hire a second individual.”

A total of 67 people applied for the two advertised positions. Former interim Escambia County Administrator Larry Newsom was among the applicants, but did not make the final cut.

Each of the three remaining finalists has Pensacola connections. The finalist most familiar to locals is likely Keith Wilkins, a longtime Escambia County employee who currently serves as the County’s Director of Community and Environment. Casey Street is a Pensacola native who has been the Chief of Staff for Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) since 2012, and James Labar is a University of West Florida graduate currently working in the Oregon governor’s office.

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