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When the St. Mary’s County commissioners advertised for applicants for a new top administrator, one of the stipulations was a requirement to live in the county.

But they waived that requirement when they decided to hire Rebecca Bridgett, who will begin working for county government April 15.

Bridgett lives within the Charlotte Hall ZIP code, which has a post office in northern St. Mary’s County. But her home is four miles north of the county line in Charles, where she has lived for more than 20 years, she said last week.

The St. Mary’s County commissioners did not want to create a hardship for her by requiring her to move into the county, so a waiver was included in her employment contract, said Sue Sabo, acting St. Mary’s County administrator and director of the human resources department.

Bridgett was dismissed from a similar job in Charles County last year. How and why that happened is still unclear even to her, she said.

“Most people read about what happened to me in the paper, as I did,” Bridgett said. The Maryland Independent reported that three of the five Charles County commissioners voted on June 26, 2012, during a closed-door session to cancel her employment contract.

A June 27 letter to Bridgett stated, “I wish to inform you that the Board of County Commissioners has determined to end your at-will employment relationship with the county. We are giving you a letter which serves as the ten (10) day written notice of this decision, ending July 11, 2012. During this time you will be on paid administrative leave.”

“Unless they wish to disclose why they decided to do that, I don’t know what that was,” Bridgett said. She said she learned of the split vote in the newspaper. “The majority of the county commissioners never shared with me why they terminated my contract without cause.”

Her employment contract with Charles County said she could be terminated “for any or no reason.”

She noted that she was hired as the Charles County administrator in 2009 and four of the five county commissioners were then replaced in the 2010 election.

After she was dismissed as county administrator last July, Bridgett then took a job as the acting director for human resources in the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, where she has worked for the last eight months.

In a letter to the editor in the Maryland Independent published in August, Bridgett said she was writing “to take this opportunity to thank the members of this wonderful community for the outpouring of support I have received during what has been a very difficult time.”

“I didn’t see it as something I could hold against Becky Bridgett,” Jack Russell (D), president of the St. Mary’s County commissioners, said of her dismissal as Charles County administrator. He reiterated that all five St. Mary’s commissioners agreed to hire her. “Becky Bridgett came out to be the best person for St. Mary’s County,” he said.

“That appointment will be their loss,” St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) said, adding that her dismissal as Charles County administrator was not an issue for him. “That situation was between her and a politically divided board of county commissioners,” he said.

Bridgett’s annual salary is $155,000 and terminating her would require a 180-day notice. Other St. Mary’s government department heads can be dismissed with 90 days’ notice.

“I really want them to have my best foot forward,” Bridgett said of the St. Mary’s commissioners. “I want to have positive energy coming into St. Mary’s County so only good things can happen.”

jbabcock@somdnews.com