Narrowing in: JEA Board down to three finalists for CEO position

JEA CEO finalists (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – JEA is one step closer to finding its next CEO.

On Tuesday, the JEA board of directors interviewed the three finalists for the utility’s open CEO position.

The finalists are:

  • John Lewis Hairston: Chief Operating Officer, Bonneville Power Administration, located in Portland, Oregon
  • Morgan K. O’Brien: Former Chief Executive Officer and President, Peoples Gas, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Jay C. Stowe: Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Stowe Utility Group LLC, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee and former Senior Vice President of Resources and Operations Support for the Tennessee Valley Authority

One of the finalists will take over for interim CEO Paul McElroy who was called in to replace Melissa Dykes, who herself replaced embattled former CEO Aaron Zahn.

Zahn was fired by a different JEA board in January following his role in the controversial failed plan to sell the city-owned utility.

The senior leadership team is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and city council.

Each of the candidates took questions from the board members Tuesday during the public meeting, the board’s first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The board members all said they were generally impressed with all three candidates.

“I think we have a tough decision,” said John Baker, JEA Board Chairman.

The board is now tasked with ranking the three candidates. They will then turn in their rankings sometime in the next two days and the board will look to make its final decision on a CEO by Friday.

About the Authors:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.