Search Committee ‘Advisor’ Knew Nothing About It

Jim Hanson


By Mike Lednovich

A long tenured former city manager who was voted by the City Commission Tuesday to serve as one of two expert advisors to the Citizens City Manager Search Committee said Wednesday he knows nothing about the appointment.

Jim Hanson when reached Wednesday in Orange Park said “I don’t know why my name came up. I was never approached by anyone at the city.”

Hanson said his only contact with the City of Fernandina Beach was in February when Fernandina Beach Fire Chief Ty Silcox called him about possibly becoming interim city manager after the termination of City Manager Dale Martin.

“I didn’t have an interest in that position and I haven’t heard from the city since that call,” Hanson said.

Now retired, Hanson is a volunteer advisor for the Florida City/County Management Association.

“Under the rules of the FCCMA I cannot condone an appointment to a city manager search committee. It’s against our rules,” Hanson said. “We are only allowed to serve cities under 10,000 population. I can advise cities on the process, but any review of candidate resumes or the candidates themselves would be inappropriate.”

Vice Mayor David Sturges proposed that Hanson and Richard Sala, both former city managers, be appointed as advisors to the Citizens City Manager Search Committee. His proposal was approved by a 5-0 vote.

Observer efforts to track down Richard Sala have so far been unsuccessful.

City Commissioner Chip Ross said he had already filed a motion of reconsideration for the next city commission meeting to revoke Hanson’s appointment.

“The fact that Mr. Hanson learned of this appointment from a Fernandina Observer reporter resulted in me notifying the city attorney of the motion of reconsideration,” Ross said.

Sturges brought up adding advisors immediately after the Citizens City Manager Search Committee vote of approval was introduced for city commission consideration.

“There are two people we can reach out to locally. One man (Sala) called me directly. Both these people served in ‘Florida’ city manager positions for 35 years to 40 years plus,” Sturges claimed.  “I spoke with staff and somebody else (Hanson) who has 35 years in another local city (we can reach out to).”

Hanson said he doesn’t know Vice Mayor Sturges or any other city commissioner.

“I of course know Dale Martin from activities of the FCCMA and Chief Silcox when he was fire chief at Atlantic Beach.”

Hanson earned about $130,000 annually as Atlantic Beach city manager, a job he held for 14 years.

After his interview with the Fernandina Observer, Hanson called the city and spoke with Silcox and City Clerk Caroline Best. He also watched the video recording of the City Commission meeting.

“I wanted to find out exactly what was going on. I didn’t know anything about being named or appointed to a committee,” he said.

Hanson said when he spoke with Silcox, the fire chief was also in the dark about the city commission’s vote to add advisors to the committee.

“I finally pieced together that it was probably the city attorney who mentioned me at some point since she was part of the original conversation about the interim city manager position,” Hanson said, “But as I said I’ve had no conversations with anyone at the city since then about advising them on the vacant city manager position.”

The Atlantic Beach City Commission voted 3-2 in December 2013 to fire Hanson and city attorney Alan Jensen without cause. Prior to Atlantic Beach, Hanson was Board Manager, Marietta, Ga. Board of Lights and Water (1994-1999), Administrative Assistant (1976-1980)/Assistant City Manager (1981-1982)/ and City Manager (1982-1994) City of LaGrange, Ga.

Hanson became town manager of Orange Park in 2014 and retired from that position in 2017.

Last April, Hanson in his capacity as Senior Advisor for the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA), appeared before the Lake City council and advised them on the city’s search for their next city manager.

“If a city calls me I can give them advice. I cannot be on a committee in any capacity,” he said. “I would also urge Fernandina Beach to use a search firm to find the next city manager. Identifying qualified candidates requires a depth of expertise local committees do not have.”

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Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
1 year ago

This is so clear! We need to hire a professional search firm! WHY is there resistance to this common sense action?

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_67826)
1 year ago
Reply to  Peggy Bulger

Oh com’on now Ms. Peggy you’re wayyyyyyy smarter than that……just like the Good ‘Olde Boyz now running FB into the capital of Pork….Southern Style. The collective intelligence of the “new” Commissioners is downright scary but hey, isn’t none of them’s Northerners going to tell us “locals” how to run dis place we were born and raised here…..Correct we Northerners just have to just write bigger checks.

Two words come to mind with this whole mess, embarrassing and shameful.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
1 year ago

Nick — I feel like I’m on the Laurel & Hardy show, or maybe the Keystone Kops

1 year ago
Reply to  Peggy Bulger

Three Stooges.

Christine Freeman
Christine Freeman(@caccf1)
1 year ago

The ineptitude of the majority of our city council is astounding and deeply concerning.

Joe Palmer
Joe Palmer (@guest_67828)
1 year ago

Sturges is as thick as a plank. Why does anyone even listen to him? This is such a ridiculous situation.

DAVE LOTT(@dave-l)
1 year ago

Should there be an admission charge to watch this comedy of errors? Wait, city residents are already paying in one form or another. Those of us afar in the cheap seats have been able to watch from free while munching on our popcorn.

Christine Harmon
Christine Harmon (@guest_67837)
1 year ago
Reply to  DAVE LOTT

I think Mike (Lednovich) needs to give us a warning. I start my day with the “Observer” and a glass of tea. I almost spit it out; I was laughing so hard. Good job Mike!

Steve Vogel
Steve Vogel(@stevedec)
1 year ago

I hope the folks who voted those clowns into office are happy with how they are acting.

1 year ago

Inexcusable! Inept! Intolerable! What we allow is what will continue. The question is how long are we going to permit the clown show to continue?

Terry (@guest_67832)
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsie

Forgive my lack of understanding. But what are “our” options at this point?

1 year ago
Reply to  Terry

A recall petition?

Betsy (@guest_67833)
1 year ago

Mike – thanks for your great reporting! Keep it up and keep them honest!

Bill Fold
Bill Fold(@bill-fold)
1 year ago

Oh well. City of Jacksonville is looking for a city manager, too. Who wants to bet they’ll get one before Fernandina?

Skeeter Askey
Skeeter Askey (@guest_67841)
1 year ago

Who’s on first??? Maybe the should be a recall to get rid of these guys and start over.

John Findlay
John Findlay(@jfindlay)
1 year ago

Surprised Steve Nicklas or Dave Scott haven’t applied. They claim to have all the answers.

Troy Walker
Troy Walker (@guest_67843)
1 year ago

Are your taxes going up tomorrow? will the pavement buckle? perhaps Fernandina will sink into the sea. I am sure your daily lives are in turmoil. Chill out citizens and give the new guys a little time.

Active Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Troy Walker

Sturges and Bean are not new and we’re behind most of this. Ascue was just too dumb to realize what he was doing. At least Antun was smart enough to vote “no” when firing the city manager but all those “reasons” Sturges gave wasn’t the real reason. It’s the good ole boy network at its finest. Bean and Sturges have a hidden agenda in order to benefit themselves.

Richard Lamken
Richard Lamken(@ralamken)
1 year ago

As a retired HR Executive in both the public and private sectors, I offer the following. I used Search Firms and also interviewed for positions that had Search Firms running the recruitment.


Full vetting of candidates. They’re effectively telling the employer, “In our expert opinion, we believe these candidates can be successful in this position”.

Assisting the employer in defining what they’re really looking for. Job description modification. What has made previous employees both successful and unsuccessful?

Passive recruiting – They contact candidates who’ve they’ve interviewed before and who’ve done well and give them the particulars about the position. They contact individuals they’ve previously placed and tell them about the opening. They also have candidates who’ve contacted them looking for an opportunity.

Selection assistance – At times, selection panels are deadlocked. They can help the panel find areas of agreement and those of disagreement. They coach until there’s a decision.

Guarantee – Search firms offer a guarantee, usually for 12 months, that if the new employee leaves or is terminated, the firm will replace them without a new search fee.

Sandra Baker-Hinton
Sandra Baker-Hinton (@guest_67858)
1 year ago

Thankfully, although I live on the island, I do not live where I have a HOA. My yard doesn’t have much grass. I don’t need chemicals although most of my neighbors do. Of course I have tons of squirrels and this year I have spotted green snake, black snake, and a rat snake. I have a family of Marsh Rabbits, and a very healthy bunch of Skinks and other lizards. I plant lots of plants for nectar and host plants for the butterflies. My yard is not tidy and neat but it is a good place for my critters to exist.

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_67860)
1 year ago

Looks like this comment was mis-posted from Pat’s Wildways.


[…] North Lauderdale City Manager Richard Sala and former Atlantic Beach City Manager Jim Hanson, who wasn’t even aware of the proposal […]