MADEIRA BEACH — In an unexpected, but welcome, turn of events for the city, it now appears certain a new city manager will be at work, in his office at City Hall, on Monday, Dec. 20.
The search for a city manager has apparently ended with the selection of what had been the commission’s second choice, Robin Gomez of Clarkston, Georgia, who has extensive work experience with the city of Clearwater.
At a special meeting on Dec. 6, Commissioner Helen “Happy” Price, who has been negotiating with the city manager candidates, said negotiations with the commissioners’ first choice, Anthony J. Carson of Texas had broken down.
“We made some changes in the agreement, some in his favor, some in our favor,” Price said. Then the commissioners met and made more revisions. “We had another discussion about the changes, and he just wasn’t satisfied with it. So, we never came to an agreement,” said Price.
After realizing a contract with Carson would not work out, Price said, “I went to our backup plan, and immediately called Mr. Gomez to see if he was still interested.”
“He was very excited about it,” Price said.
Price immediately sent Gomez the same agreement that Carson was given. That contract had been approved by the commission in a unanimous vote at a special meeting on Dec. 1. It was mostly the same as the contract currently in effect for City Manager Bob Daniels, with a two-year term, and standard benefits. The salary was set at $135,000, and reimbursed moving expenses were capped at $10,000.
The next day, Dec. 3, Gomez called Price back, and said he had talked with his wife, and family as well, about coming to Madeira Beach as city manager.
“He told me he agreed with the terms of the contract and could start on Dec. 20.,” Price said.
“Gomez told me he was very excited and humbled that we were still considering him. He said he had looked at the agreement, and to show us he was ready to get going, had actually signed the contract and sent it back to me, even though he knows the commission has to approve it first,” said Price.
City commission members were pleased with the selection of Gomez as the city’s CEO.
Mayor John Hendricks said he had called Gomez’s references in Clearwater, where he had worked for 17 years, and “I heard glowing remarks about him.”
“I am all for approving this contract,” the mayor said.
Commissioner Doug Andrews said, “I think he will make a really great addition” to the city.
“I liked him. I liked him a lot,” said Commissioner Nancy Hodges, who added she was “glad Mr. Gomez said he was very satisfied with the $135,000 salary we were offering.”
Price said she thinks Gomez will be “a really good fit” for Madeira Beach. She made the motion to hire Gomez, which was approved 5 to 0.
It has not been easy to get to the point where a chosen candidate is ready to sign a contract. Madeira’s search for a new city manager began in July, with a field of 28 candidates, and seemed to be concluded in September when Lee Staab, a Colorado resident, was selected by the commission. He unexpectedly turned down the job the next day, saying he and his wife “want to continue looking for the ideal place to call home.”
Then a new search was begun. This time there were 15 applicants, which were narrowed down to a final three, before Anthony Carson was chosen in a close vote. At a special meeting on Dec. 1, the commission approved a contract for Carson, and Price ended the meeting saying, “Welcome, Mr. Carson.” What had appeared to be a done deal, ended a day later in failed contract negotiations.
Now, the commission has gone to their backup choice, Robin Gomez, who has already signed the contract, finally bringing the city manager search to a conclusion.
Following the contract’s approval, Gomez sent the Beacon an email commenting on his selection as the city’s new CEO.
He said, “Greetings Madeira Beach. I am extremely excited, honored, and humbled to serve as the next Madeira Beach city manager. I am very thankful to the Mayor and City Commission for the selection and greatly look forward to working with the commission, city staff, residents, businesses, and visitors to ensure Madeira Beach continues to prosper as a premiere city and destination to live, learn, work, and play.
My daily focus will help ensure all city staff continue providing the most efficient and effective city services strongly focusing on safety, infrastructure maintenance, and economic development/ redevelopment. I look forward to meeting everyone and establishing positive relationships in my first few days, weeks, and months in Madeira Beach.”