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Water Authority to interview executive director finalist after others drop out

The chief financial officer of an environmental consulting firm emerged as the front-runner to become executive director of the Erie County Water Authority. But the search has been a difficult one.

H. John Mye III, an Amherst resident, is a licensed professional engineer who served as vice president and chief financial officer for Ecology and Environment, an international consulting firm based in Lancaster. He served in that position since 2007 before recently retiring.

He is the only candidate authority commissioners will interview at their next meeting on Nov. 1 — partly because other candidates they might have interviewed dropped out.

The Water Authority's new leaders pledged to set aside politics and seek the most qualified candidates it could for its executive director post after firing former Executive Director Earl Jann in June. They expected it would be a hard sell, given the authority's damaged reputation.

It was.

On Friday, the authority's commissioners agreed to interview Mye after receiving five applications. Three applicants dropped out. One of them, from Illinois, had a number of discrepancies on his resume. He dropped out Friday after authority administrators unsuccessfully attempted to have him sign a waiver for a background check into his employment, education, criminal and credit histories. He told the authority he received a job offer elsewhere.

The authority chose not to interview one of the five applicants.

Mye is the only local candidate to apply. If hired, he would enter the job with his eyes wide open.

"I understand the intense public scrutiny here and have the experience and demeanor to handle it," he wrote in his cover letter to the board. "Rest assured as commissioners you will have no headaches."

Mye previously served as vice president of finance for Vishay Technology, which manufactures semiconductors and electronics. He holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in business administration. Mye, a registered Republican, said in his cover letter that he has no political background or connections.

State campaign finance records show no political contributions.

[Read H. John Mye III's resume]

Commissioners currently consider him a top contender for the job but offer no guarantees.

"If we’re not happy with Mr. Mye in the interview process, if we do not feel he’s best suited for this position, we will go back, take a look at where we’re at," said Secretary Terrence McCracken. "We’re not going to hire him just because he’s one candidate."

The attrition among executive director applicants comes after the authority board developed a more rigorous job description for the position and posted it with four national industry associations related to water utilities, engineering and government finance.

Commissioners expressed an eagerness to avoid a repeat of the kind of public criticism that surrounded the hiring of Jann, the former director who had work experience in pharmaceutical sales and was a Republican donor, former elected official and former authority board chairman.

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