GAINESVILLE – The preferred candidate for the position of county manager has turned down the offer, again.

Stockton Whitten went from runner-up to top pick for the job last week when the previous first choice, James Bourey of Greenville, S.C., decided on another job outside of the county. Now, a week after Whitten took the lead, he has dropped out as well.

Whitten sent an email to County Commissioner Mike Byerly Tuesday morning, informing him of his decision. The message read:

"I trust that this correspondence reaches you in a timely fashion.  I certainly appreciate your time and willingness to discuss the proposed contract offer forwarded to my attention by the County Attorney's Office.  I have reviewed the documentation in great detail and spent the last week in consultation with my family regarding the opportunity.  I have always felt that Alachua County would be a great place to live, work, and raise a family and I am still of that opinion today.  This was bolstered by the many wonderful people I had a chance to meet during the interview process.    However, in reflecting on the totality of the circumstances, I believe at this juncture, it is in the best interest for me and my family to remain in Brevard County."

Whitten is currently the deputy county manager in Brevard County, a position he got late last year. He was an assistant county manager for 12 years before that.

The third choice for the job is Charles Oliver, CEO of Oliver & Associates in Pensacola. The county will still have to negotiate with him regarding a contract.

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