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News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Shop local to fill government posts [Editorial]

We live in a mobile society. Offers of high level positions in government and businesses often include an option to have moving expenses paid.

Mobility, however, also means anyone from the remotest part of the country can secure a first rate education, so there's not necessarily a good reason to hire people from far away to ensure a highly qualified person is secured.

Case in point is Chris Schlehr, who is retiring from the post of Bel Air town administrator after more than 20 years at the department head level with town government.

Schlehr initially went to work for the town government when he was hired to fill the post of director of public works. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, with 20 years of service as a commander in the Civil Engineer Corps, he was an ideal candidate for the post and the town government was fortunate to have the opportunity to enlist his services.

It was a wonderful opportunity for Schlehr, too. A Bel Air High School graduate, Schlehr grew up in town and his extended family is firmly rooted in Harford County.

As it turns out, such situations aren't necessarily happy accidents. A few miles to the east, Havre de Grace this week brought on Jim Newby to serve as city administrator, a position roughly comparable to the one from which Schlehr is retiring. Like Schlehr, Newby has solid credentials. He is not only a Havre de Grace High School graduate, but also is firmly rooted in the community.

This is not to say there's something wrong with hiring people from far afield, but there's no reason to do it to the exclusion of candidates who, based solely on credentials, might well be sought after by a community many miles away.

It's something for the town's board of commissioners to ponder as they review candidates for replacing Schlehr.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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