Finalist for JEA CEO job drops out, citing family reasons

Frankie McDermott's withdrawal leaves three candidates on the short list

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The short list of candidates for the top job at JEA just got shorter.

One of four finalists vying to become the utility’s next chief executive officer dropped out Monday. In a letter, Frankie McDermott cited not wanting to leave his family behind as the reason for his withdrawal.

“In discussions with our family and a lot of deep consideration, we have decided that we did not want to leave our family and miss some very special times as our grandchildren grow up,” he wrote.

The decision by McDermott, currently the chief energy officer for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, leaves three others still in the running for the JEA job, including interim CEO Aaron Zahn.

Among the other remaining finalists for the job include Cris Eugster, chief operating officer for San Antonio’s CPS Energy and Pamela Hill, who’s a senior vice president for PowerSecure, Inc.

Zahn, who has the support of Mayor Lenny Curry, has come under fire for lack of experience. In fact, a search firm hired to screen the finalists graded him last when it came to qualifications and leadership.

City Councilman Matt Schellenberg, who is the council liaison to JEA, slammed Zahn and the entire selection process during a Tuesday interview on WJCT, claiming the process appears to be rigged.

JEA board members, who denied that suggestion, are scheduled to meet on Nov. 27 to select the CEO.

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