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Sarasota Thursday, May. 31, 2012 5 years ago

City manager list down to eight

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A list of 104 Sarasota city manager candidates has been whittled to eight. The Sarasota City Commission will now be charged with making its final selection in July.

Search consultant Colin Baenziger, of Wellington-based Colin Baenziger & Associates, and his team have spent the last four months analyzing candidates and gathering data on the finalists. The data, contained in 8-inch thick binders, was shipped Wednesday, May 30, to City Hall for Sarasota city commissioners to review. The binders revealed the following: Three city managers in the list are current city managers in Florida, and none of the eight chosen is a local candidate.

The Florida city manager choices include Daytona Beach City Manager James Chisholm; West Palm Beach City Administrator Edward “Ed” Mitchell; and Casselberry City Manager Barbara Lipscomb.

Rounding out the list of other current city manager choices are Oak Park, Ill., City Manager Thomas Barwin; McKinney, Texas, Deputy City Manager Rick Chaffin; Marine City, Mich., City Manager John Gabor; and Mercer County, N.J., City Manager Andrew Mair.

Only one candidate who made the list does not currently hold the title of city manager: Michael Hein, director of Emergency Management & Homeland Security for Pima County, Ariz. Hein, though, is the former city manager of Tucson, Ariz.

The tile of city manager experience was not a requirement for candidates.

“We were open to all candidates, but the main goal has always been to select the best city manager for this city,” said Del Borgsdorf, the chairman of the City Manager Citizens Advisory Panel and the retired city manager of San Jose, Calif.

Citizens Advisory Panel member Richard Dorfman was pleased to hear that Chisholm made the list.

“His qualifications and personality are a great match for the city,” Dorfman said.

Chisholm and Mitchell were both attending a Florida City County Manager Association Meeting and unavailable for comment. Lipscomb, who resigned as city manager of Casselberry in January, did not return a phone call as of press time Wednesday.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Sarasota city commissioners had not had a chance to look at the candidate binders yet.

Commissioner Shannon Snyder and others had pushed for the search firm to be open to candidates and said he’s confident the search firm did a good job.

“If this is the best of the best, I’m sure the search firm weeded out the candidates properly and made the right choices,” Snyder said. “I have a great deal of confidence in the consultant we hired.”

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo said he needed more time to review the list.

“I’m excited to look through the list of final candidates,” Caragiulo said.

The search came after former City Manager Bob Bartolotta resigned in January, in the wake of an ongoing computer investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI.

The advisory panel of 10 residents met in March to provide input for a new city manager search.

Baenziger also met individually with each city commissioner, using those meetings to craft a rough draft of an employment profile brochure that was used for the city manager search.

On April 24, Baenziger presented a list of 104 city manager candidates to City Hall, which was then reduced over the past month to the eight finalists.

City commissioners will have the rest of the month to peruse the candidate profiles before a two-day finalist selection process begins in June.

That process includes candidate one-on-one interviews with city commissioners and a community meet-and-greet to be held at the Friday, June 29, Robert L. Taylor Community Center, at a time yet to be announced.

Then, Saturday, June 30, candidate meetings will be held with the Sarasota City Commission, department heads and the City Manager Citizens Advisory Panel.

In July, the Sarasota City Commission is expected to officially make its final selection and hire its new city manager at the Monday, July 2, regular meeting.

Baenziger’s memo to commissioners explains that the background material on the eight candidates includes “one notable error.”

“Probably the most notable error is a DUI that Mr. Hein got in 2010,” wrote Baenziger. “He admits it was a terrible mistake and that it changed his life. We recommend him, in spite of this, because of his body of work and his candid admission and regret.”

Baenziger said commissioners “will find far more positives than negatives with respect to these individuals.”

The Sarasota City Commission and city residents will have an opportunity to meet the following eight candidates for the city of Sarasota’s open city manager position next month:

Candidate; Current Position
James Chisholm; City Manager of Daytona Beach
Edward “Ed” Mitchell; City Administrator of West Palm Beach
Barbara Lipscomb; Former City Manager of Casselberry
Thomas Barwin; City Manager of Oak Park, Ill.
Rick Chaffin Deputy City Manager; of McKinney, Texas
John Gabor City Manager; of Marine City, Mich.
Andrew Mair City Manager; of Mercer County, N.J.
Director of Emergency Management & Michael Hein Homeland Security for Pima County, Ariz.

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