MADEIRA BEACH — In a special meeting June 27, city commissioners chose Winter Park Assistant City Manager Michelle Neuner to be their next city manager.
The vote was close. When the five commission members were asked to rank their top two candidates, Neuner was the top choice of Commissioners Nancy Hodges and Doug Andrews. She was rated second by Mayor Maggi Black and Commissioner Deby Weinstein. That gave her a total of 4 points.
Lyndon Bonner, who served in 2017 as interim city manager of Brooksville and for a brief period last year as county administrator of Jackson County, was second with 3 points. Bonner was Black’s first choice.
James Drumm, city manager of Brunswick, Georgia, since 2015 was in third place with 2 points, and was the top pick of Commissioners John Douthirt and Deby Weinstein.
Andrew Butterfield, a military commander who had been one of the commissioners’ “veterans preference” picks, rounded out the final selections with 1 point.
The city had 36 applicants for the job.
Weinstein made a motion “to welcome Michelle Neuner as our next city manager. We will all be happy with her arrival,” she said.
A request by City Manager Jonathan Evans that the vote be unanimous failed when Douthirt voted against the motion.
Before the vote, Andrews said Neuner stood out among the candidates. Her financial background “exceeds anybody else,” he said, and “we need help with the budget and she outshines everybody in that area.” Andrews also said Neuner had worked in city government for 27 years and has only had two jobs, “which I like, too.”
Hodges said she was impressed with Neuner’s “leadership, her skills and financial background, and the way she presented herself.”
Weinstein said Neuner wants to keep Madeira Beach’s “small-town preservation approach” and knows how passionate people in small communities are.
“That resonated with me,” Weinstein said. “I was really impressed.”
Black said Neuner was “clearly the top candidate of all on paper” but added that she was soft-spoken and stumbled at times during her interview.
Several commissioners brought up that senior staff members had also interviewed the city manager candidates. In the staff ratings, “Neuner came in first, and that says a lot about her abilities to work with staff,” Weinstein said.
Neuner has owned a second home in Redington Beach since 2015 and is interested in moving here. She was also a top candidate for the city manager position in St. Pete Beach earlier this year.
Evans said he would contact Neuner to work out a contract for her to come to Madeira Beach as city manager. That should be ready for the commission to review and approve at its July 9 meeting.