City Commission Goes Big-Time in Manager Search

By Mike Phillips

For several weeks after firing former City Manager Dale Martin, a majority of Fernandina Beach commissioners were at best lukewarm on the idea of hiring a professional search firm to find the city’s next manager. Instead, they appointed a citizen committee to assist with the search and tried to negotiate an “a la carte” deal with a search firm. The “a la carte” idea went nowhere.

Then the citizen committee held its organizational meeting Monday and sent the commission a clear message: Hire a good search firm and pony up for the firm’s full package. As chairman Tim Poynter said, the committee can’t do anything until the commission has hired professional help and – just as important – has let the selected firm and the citizen committee clearly understand what qualities, skills, experience and other assets the commission is looking for in this critical hire.

Message received.

Tuesday evening, with almost no discussion, the commission voted 5/0 to authorize negotiations with a firm. And the commissioners said they will be prepared to sit down for interviews once a search deal has been signed and let the professionals know what they are looking for in the next city manager.

Citizens commenting on the issue said the city should be prepared to pay a competitive salary, and the Conserve Nassau group handed out a memo listing several skills and credentials needed in a good city manager, such as a history of successful city management, knowledge of a coastal environment, good communication and consensus-building skills and good financial skills. And quite a few more.

Which was another message: Many citizens will be paying close attention to the search, and they won’t be shy about making suggestions.

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Jack (@guest_68529)
1 year ago

The commission should have known this before Mr. Martin was terminated. It seems that they were not prepared for the consequence of their own actions. Now they are scrambling to catch up.

John Findlay
John Findlay(@jfindlay)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack

I was afraid they were going to simply appoint one of their cronies, or the guy that Knocke and Nicklas were touting. Now it seems more professional.

Steve Vogel
Steve Vogel(@stevedec)
1 year ago
Reply to  John Findlay

Don’t rule that out. They can ultimately appoint anybody they want.

1 year ago
Reply to  John Findlay

There’s still an active push for that gu

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_68555)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack

They “cleverly” thought they could game this and install one of their cronies, like most else they do.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
1 year ago

No need for the Commission to start with a blank page. Simply look at the “require” and “nice to have” qualifications that were published for previous city managers and modify accordingly. Kudos to the Citizen’s Committee for their position to make the commissioners take their share of ownership.

Troy Walker
Troy Walker (@guest_68553)
1 year ago

Time once again for all the backseat riders to start shouting out directions.

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

I really am so glad that the commission has agreed to do the right thing for all of us. A professional firm was really the only way to get a city manager who will be working for the good of all Fernandinans. I, for one, want to believe in the power of truth and transparency when it comes to local government. Now that we have a professional road forward, I hope that we all will give this process our support and come to the table with open minds and a willingness to compromise.