Many of those interviewed by the search firm, Colin Baezinger & Associates, used those words to describe current West Palm Beach City Manager Edward “Ed” Mitchell’s management style.
Mitchell, along with Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm, are the only two Florida city manager candidates left in the running for the Sarasota city manager position. Former Casselberry City Manager Barbara Lipscomb dropped out of the running last week to accept a manager position out of state.
A total of four candidates is coming Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30 to Sarasota to be interviewed by the Sarasota city commissioners and residents.
Candidates declined to be interviewed by the Sarasota Observer until they are interviewed for the position.
Mitchell has worked in city administration for 26 years and has held his current city manager position in West Palm Beach for 13 years. Mitchell worked as a management intern in West Palm Beach in 1986 and after a stint as a Palm Beach Gardens assistant city manager, Mitchell became the assistant city manager in West Palm Beach in 1993. Mitchell assumed his current post in West Palm Beach in 1999.
Mitchell cut $8 million from the city of West Palm Beach’s budget in fiscal year 2007-08, a feat Mitchell told an interviewer is his greatest achievement to date. Mitchell reduced the budget by getting employees to make concessions with their retirement programs. For fiscal year 2012, Mitchell also negotiated financial and pension concessions with the city’s unions.
Mitchell’s second-greatest achievement was a revitalization of West Palm Beach he oversaw through the creation of CityPlace, an area just west of downtown that once was considered a foreclosed-upon wasteland before the city purchased it for $30 million and made it accessible to developers. CityPlace is now a 10-block shopping/dining/entertainment district that’s been recognized as a model for downtown revitalization.
Mitchell noted, in his interview with Colin Baezinger & Associates, he is excited about the prospect of being the next city manager of Sarasota because it has challenges similar to West Palm Beach and he feels he’s ready for new challenges, including “of restoring credibility and confidence” to the city of Sarasota.
Those interviewed by the search firm explained Mitchell is “a hard worker, positive and loyal.” Elected officials in West Palm Beach say Mitchell “gets things done.”
Mitchell lists his strengths as “promoting a city, building trust” and “being a person of my word.”
When asked about his weaknesses, Mitchell said sometimes employees complain they are overextended because Mitchell sometimes over commits them and always demands excellence. Mitchell also mandates employees evaluate goals every 90 days and holds an annual evaluation.
When asked about terminating employees, Mitchell explained in his interview that most employees fire themselves, explaining that he outlines expectations carefully and expects people to follow them and be accountable for their actions.
Emilee Anderson and Lynelle Klein, who interviewed Mitchell for the Sarasota city manager job, had the following to say about Mitchell: “Competent, achievement-oriented, thoughtful and analytical; friendly and easy to work with but also someone who expects you to do your job. Ready for new challenges and to expand his experience. The kind of person you would want steering your boat in a storm.”
West Palm Beach Mayor Geraldine Muoio told the search firm Mitchell’s performance “is terrific” and said he keeps elected officials well-informed.
West Palm Beach resident Margie Yansura, who has worked as a consultant for the city, told the Sarasota Observer she was impressed with Mitchell when Hurricane Wilma approached in 2005.
“He stayed at the command center 24 hours a day and slept on the floor when he needed some sleep,” Yansura said. “He was a leader.”
Edward ‘Ed’ Mitchell
City of Sarasota commission finalist votes received: Five
Current position: City administrator of West Palm Beach since 1999
Current annual salary: $210,000
Background check: No records found
Past positions: West Palm Beach assistant city administrator; Palm Beach Gardens assistant city manager
Education: Master’s in public administration from Suffolk University, School of Management, in Boston