ST. PETE BEACH – The search for a new city manager will begin in earnest when the City Commission meets on Tuesday, May 13.
Mayor Maria Lowe said the 6 p.m. meeting would include a discussion on a number of items that would come into play in the search.
She said the first aspect would be to update the job description for the position and then hire a recruiting firm to conduct a search. Once a list of candidates is presented to the city, Lowe said she would like to form a blue ribbon committee, made up of St. Pete Beach residents, to make a recommendation. From there, Lowe said, she would like to set a time line but there would be no hurry. Quality would be the buzzword, she said.
“We need to find the total package as a city manager,” Lowe said. “We need to find the right person – someone who can work with our city staff, understanding their strengths and weaknesses. We need a quality leader in our executive directorship.”
Commissioner Terri Finnerty said she is looking forward to a new era in city government that a new city manager will bring.
“I would like to say that I’m certainly looking forward to having someone on board who can see the city in a new light to give us new options to old problems and to bring some energy to solving some of those problems,” Finnerty said. “I know this has been a struggle for a lot of people here.”
Among those struggling with the change is Commissioner Greg Premer, who has been adamant about his disagreement over the termination of former City Manager Mike Bonfield.
“I fear for our little city,” Premer said. “Everybody wants a great person to come along and solve great problems. I fear the actions of (April 22) and the way it occurred.
“There are only about 400 cities in Florida that have a city manager and the best qualified people, from what I’ve heard, won’t even look at St. Pete Beach under the current circumstances,” Premer added. “I’m concerned about that. It’s going to be a lengthy process.”
Commissioner Melinda Pletcher, a proponent of the change, said she believes it will be a new beginning for the city.
“This is a great chance for our city and good government moving forward,” said Pletcher. “I want to thank the tremendous amount of residents who have reached out. The overwhelming support I have received from probably 200 people, it was amazing. So many people reached out and said this has been going on for so long.”
Lowe, Finnerty and Pletcher voted April 22 for Bonfield’s termination. Premer and Jim Parent voted against it. Parent later resigned his commission post.
The city is expected to name an interim replacement for Parent May 13 and plans an Aug. 26 election for a replacement to fill the remainder of Parent’s term.