KINGMAN - Acting Mohave County Administrator Mike Hendrix told the Mohave Republican Forum that he is not tainted by his work as department head under former County Manager Ron Walker.
Hendrix is one of 38 candidates who applied for the county administrator's position. A committee narrowed the field of candidates down to six on Wednesday and the Board of Supervisors is expected to make a decision on Monday.
"How can you not be tainted by working for Mr. Walker?" asked Forum President Richard Basinger Wednesday evening.
Walker angered a number of people before he resigned from the county in December. He instituted a ban on weapons in county buildings, installed a metal detector at the entrance of the County Administration Building, created a dress code for the public at Board of Supervisors' meetings and insulted member of the public and the Board.
"That's a fair question," Hendrix said. "Mr. Walker had great sympathy for my department because of how well it operated. But I'm not Mr. Walker."
Hendrix said he didn't support everything the previous administration did, but tried to follow the advice of his father to support his employer the best that he could.
"In every leadership position I've held I've tried to improve things," he said. "I've opened the administrator's suite to employees. I have an open door policy. Any employee is welcome to stop in and talk with me. I think I'm changing the culture at the county for the positive."
The county has increased transparency by putting a link to a database of county documents and policies on the county's website, posting streaming and archived videos of county meetings on the website, created a plan to put the entire 2014 county budget on the website, and working with the Arizona Department of Revenue to put the county's revenues and expenditures on the Arizona Department of Revenue's AZ Open Books website, he said.
His office has also been working to improve relations with the governments of each of the cities in Mohave County and the media.
"I've made it a special priority to make sure that the public and the media have direct access to me and the department heads," Hendrix said.
He said he's also worked hard to meet requests from the five different supervisors and "leave the politics to the Board."
The Board of Supervisors also deserves credit, he said, for being open and honest with the public, he said.
"They've accumulated quite a list of accomplishments in such a short time," Hendrix said.
The list includes returning the call to the public on agendas for Board meetings, removing the weapons ban and dress code in county buildings, removing the moratorium on accepting new roads into the county's maintenance system, quickly dealing with the budget problems at Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire Department, creating an employee conflict of interest policy, and calling for an investigation in the Lincoln Life insurance snafu, which left 14 employees without life insurance for several years.
"I think you have an outstanding Board of Supervisors and I think the county has a bright future ahead of it," he said.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson and District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton jumped in with their own praise of county workers in the community abatement and the Environmental Rural Area Cleanup Enforcement programs.
The programs work to help local residents clean up nuisance properties and track down people that illegal dump trash in the desert.
Watson boasted that the county's "Catch a Bug" trash cleanup program and ERACE removed more than 1 million pounds of garbage out of the desert in his first term in office.
Brotherton also praised Hendrix.
"What a tremendous job he has done as county administrator. He has the difficult job of trying to work with five different supervisors who are all asking for different things, but he never acts as like he's being put upon," Brotherton said.
"I'm so proud of where we've come in four months," Watson said.