A couple of changes are in store for New Castle County, as County Executive Tom Gordon tries to make good on his campaign promise for government transparency.
Today Gordon introduced Eileen Fogarty as his selection to head up the county’s beleaguered land use department. The New York native has 30 years of experience in land use planning, most recently serving as Director of Planning and Community Development in Santa Monica, CA from 2006 to 2011.
“She’s really uniquely qualified,” Gordon said. “She’s the real deal. We can’t afford not to grab her. She’s very qualified to deal with the unique issues we face.”
The “unique issues” include the rezoning of Barley Mill Plaza for development. A Delaware judge has since ruled against the county, but Gordon hopes bringing in an outsider will eradicate the perception that developers run the land-use department.
“Land-use is the reason the county government was formed and I think we have failed in the last number of years. There have been so many exceptions to the Unified Development Code,” Gordon said. “There was public mistrust and the need to bring people back. She’s very familiar with the climate we’re in now.”
“I’ve been in Alexandria, [VA] and Santa Monica, where the issues were citizen distrust of the process and a lot of growth pressures. Also, a lot of the community was left out of all of the process and left out of the prosperity. I’ve had tremendous success in turning agencies around and bringing enthusiasm and motivation to the agencies,” Fogarty added.
Fogarty still has to be confirmed by New Castle County Council before she officially gets the job.
The Gordon Administration has instituted New Castle County’s first ever nepotism policy, which will apply to all new hires, rehires and to future promotions and transfers. The policy aims to eliminate preferential treatment, partiality and the appearance of impropriety within the halls of county government.
Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi worked with Chief Human Resources Officer Valencia Beaty to write the policy.
“We want to foster professionalism,” Grimaldi said. “We want to make sure people have an equal opportunity to be employed here. Moreover, we want employees to advance their careers based on talent and performance rather than family ties.”
The policy forbids the hiring of any individual into a position in which the person will be supervised by a relative, allows relatives to work in the same department as long as one relative does not supervise the other, and forbids anyone from having influence over salary and benefits for his or her relatives, among other things.