Another EBR planning director finalist withdraws name from consideration

Another EBR planning director finalist withdraws name from consideration

The search for a new planning director in East Baton Rouge Parish has narrowed to three candidates after one of the four remaining finalists for the position—Carolyn Rutledge of Columbus, Ga.—withdrew her name from consideration.

Last month, the Planning Commission's top pick for the job, Cincinnati Planning Director Charles Graves III, declined an offer before terms had even been negotiated and before background and reference checks had been completed.

Graves did not publicly cite a reason for pulling his name from conisderation. Neither did Rutledge, who informed Planning Commission Chairwoman Tara Wicker of her decision in a March 28 letter that was forwarded to other members of the Planning Commission.

"Thank you and all members of the Planning Commission for selecting me to come back for a second interview," the letter from Rutledge reads. "After careful consideration I have decided to withdraw my name."

At least one Planning Commission member, Greg DuCote, says he was surprised by Rutledge's decision.

"I thought she seemed very interested," he says. "She seemed very experienced and gave a good initial interview."

Rutledge is a former planning director in Auburn, Ala. She could not be reached for comment. The remaining three candidates are Donald Broussard, owner of Town Planning and Design in Atlanta; Frank Duke, most recently a planning director in Norfolk, Va.; and, Woodrow Muhammad, planning and zoning director in Central.

Interim Planning Director Ryan Holcomb says a second round of interviews has not yet been scheduled because background checks are not complete. But those monitoring the process say the remaining pool of candidates is still strong.

"This is certainly not unusual for people to fall out over time," says Larry Bankston, executive director of the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition. "One way or the other I think there is a good candidate amongst the three."

The planning director's position was vacated in November of last year, when Troy Bunch retired after nearly 30 years.

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