And Then There Were One and a Half: Flagler Beach Manager Pick Slims to Default
FlaglerLive | October 20, 2010
The Flagler Beach City Commission has been incapable of making up its mind over a new city manager. The decision is being made for it.
Two of the last three men in the running for the job have either taken a position elsewhere or are close to doing so, leaving Bruce Campbell, who works for Flagler Beach and is a particularly noisy local faction’s favorite for the job, the last man fully standing. That doesn’t necessarily mean the commission will choose him when it meets to decide the issue on Oct. 28.
- To Bitter Reactions, Flagler Beach Commission Again Delays Hiring a New Manager
- Caryn Miller Appointed Flagler Beach’s Acting Manager As Commission Flirts With Stalemate
- Flagler Beach Reloads As 3 Candidates Are Re-Interviewed for City Manager
- Hometown Idol vs. Proven Manager: Flagler Beach Commission Splits Over Its Next Pick
The commission has been divided between those who want to hire a professional with proven public government experience, regardless of his provenance, and those who want to hire from within the city. Campbell has two drawbacks: he has no public government experience, though his private sector executive experience is not in dispute. And without his consent (but without his discouragement, either), a quasi political following has built around his candidacy, alienating several commissioners.
The three commissioners who want a professional manager are Commission Chairman John Feind and commissioners Joy McGrew and Jane Mealy. The commissioners who want a Flagler Beach pick are Steve Settle (who’d made up his mind on the matter before the interviews) and Ron Vath. The mayor, Alice Baker, is also favoring Campbell, though she doesn’t have a vote in the matter. To hire a manager, commissioners need a four-vote majority.
After starting with 140 candidates, narrowing them down to 12 and holding three series of interviews, commissioners were left with three men: Campbell, Gary Word–a professional manager in Surfside–and Edward Sealover, a retired manager who last worked as county coordinator in Nassau County, until April.
“I wanted to confirm that I have accepted another position as a county manager in South Georgia,” Sealover told FlaglerLive this morning.Contacted in Surfside later in the day, Word said he got an offer to be the city manager of Green Cove Springs–halfway between St. Augustine and Jacksonville–but that he had “some issues and concerns” with that offer, and was working them through. “I hope to have a decision one way or another,” Word said, before the Flagler Beach commission meets on Oct. 28. Meanwhile, he said he would like his name to remain in contention. Word, a careful, astute negotiator, would not say which way he was leaning, though it seemed clear that he was using the situation to his best advantage and negotiating matters on his terms in Green Cove Springs, with his still-viable candidacy in Flagler Beach as leverage.
As the choice is being made for the Flagler Beach commission, the making of a stalemate over the next manager now appears to be heading in one of two directions: Commissioners may, out of exasperation or embarrassment over their delays (they have known that they’d need a new manager since April 22, when Bernie Murphy announced his resignation), settle on Campbell. That would require both McGrew and Feind to switch position. McGrew has opposed the Campbell faction loudly and candidly. But she’s been sending signals that she might switch. Feind, who prizes consensus but bridles at political blackmail, would then be the swing vote. One likely outcome: a short contract for Campbell, of six months or a year.
The other option is to start the search anew and stick with Caryn Miller, the community redevelopment director, as the acting manager. That would trigger another round of howls from the public, whose derision toward the commission’s delays and prevarications has been getting louder and, on occasion, fouler.
But predicting what the Flagler Beach City Commission might do is like predicting Lady Gaga’s next wardrobe change.