ST. PETE BEACH – In a surprise move, city commissioners voted 3-2 on April 22 to pass a preliminary motion to terminate the contract of St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield, which was followed by the resignation of Commissioner Jim Parent.
Mayor Maria Lowe made the motion to remove Bonfield, which received a second from Commissioner Terri Finnerty.
Lowe, Finnerty and Melinda Pletcher voted in favor of the motion while Parent and Greg Premer voted against it.
“It was a preliminary motion for removal,” said Lowe. “That’s the way our ordinance prescribes any type of removal of the city manager. At that time he has 15 days to ask for a public hearing but because of the way his contract is written he has the option to resign.”
A decision was expected at an emergency meeting the evening of April 23.
Parent later tendered his resignation during the city commission reports portion of the agenda. “Lastly,” he said, “I resign.” Parent was not available for comment.
When asked if there was anything in particular that led to the commission’s decision to terminate Bonfield, Lowe did not give any answers.
“For me personally, no,” said Lowe, who was named the city’s media spokeswoman on the issue by her fellow commissioners. “I can’t speak for the other commissioners’ reasons for seconding the motion. I did not speak with them or have communications with them in regards to this vote.”
When asked if there was something that led her to bring the motion, she had no comment.
“I’m not going to discuss that tonight because we’re still in the legal proceedings of the discussion,” Lowe said.
A motion by Lowe to offer the interim city manager position to City Administrator Elaine Edmunds passed by a 3-2 vote. Lowe, Finnerty and Pletcher voted in favor of the motion, while Premer and Parent voted against it.
The commission also voted 4-1 to make Public Services Director Steve Hallick the interim city manager in the event Edmunds turns down the offer.