It is indicative of the persistent pettiness of the rivalry between Flagler County and Palm Coast that when the county sent out the announcement of its own deputy administrator receiving a state award earlier this week, it left silent the—somewhat more significant—award that went to Jim Landon, the Palm Coast City Manager.
And it did so even as one of its own county commissioners–Frank Meeker–celebrated the announcement of Landon’s win at the banquet, jokingly taking credit for some of it for having been instrumental in Landon’s career, back when Meeker was a Palm Coast City Council member. (A slight irony there, too: Meeker was not among Landon’s biggest fans on the council.)
But so it is: Landon, 56, the Palm Coast manager since 2007, received the Florida City and County Management Association’s Award for Career Excellence on Friday (May 24), the last full day of the association’s annual conference. The conference this year was held in Orlando.
Mayor Jon Netts nominated Landon for the award in a March 1 letter. (See the complete text below.)
“As Mayor of the City of Palm Coast,” Netts wrote, “this endorsement confirms the creative vision of a progressive City Manager and his perceptive insight into building Palm Coast’s team concept into employee success. Henry Ford once said, ‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.’ City Manager Jim Landon represents the essence of ‘coming together, progress and success.’”
Landon arrived in Palm Coast from Lancaster, Texas, a city of some 33,500 outside of Dallas, where he had been manager. He’d also managed the city of Toledo in Oregon, and been a planner in Ardmore, Okla., and Clark County, Nev., as that region was booming.
In Palm Coast, Landon has been a paradox—never particularly endearing himself to the public or the business community (not seeking out the approval of either), but maintaining the near-total confidence of city council members, to whom he answers exclusively.
“If people knew him better and understood what he does and what he doesn’t do, and how he takes direction,” Netts said in a brief interview today, “he might be more palatable, but that’s the nature of the beast.”
Sally Sherman, Flagler County’s deputy administrator, got the Assistant for Excellence in Leadership award at the same association banquet. The association’s President’s Award, the highest honor of the year, went to Fred Costello, the former mayor of Ormond Beach and Florida House member, and to Howard Tipton, who served as Daytona Beach city manager for 16 years before working as chief administrative officer for Orlando until his retirement in 1999.
Mayor Jon Netts’s March 1 nomination letter to the Florida City and County Management Association’s awards committee
It is with genuine pride that I endorse the City of Palm Coast’s nomination of Jim Landon, our distinguished City Manager, for the Florida City and County Management Association’s prestigious Career Excellence Award.
The key words that appropriately describe Jim Landon in your Association’s award criteria are ‘foster representative democracy’ and ‘initiate creative and successful programs’. With great foresight and initiative, Mr. Landon inaugurated a Leadership Intern Training Experience (LITE) Team Concept that brings management and employees together to work creatively to address projects not normally undertaken as routine employee functions. Representatives from all departments partner to tackle unique challenges in an equitable, open forum.
The results have been astounding. Not only have employees grasped a better understanding of government and community issues, but they’ve also developed thoughtful, productive options and solutions. The partnerships have encouraged employee buy-in of Palm Coast’s goals and objectives and enhanced morale and confidence. Please refer to more detailed information recently submitted to you in our formal application.
As Mayor of the City of Palm Coast, this endorsement confirms the creative vision of a progressive City Manager and his perceptive insight into building Palm Coast’s team concept into employee success. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” City Manager Jim Landon represents the essence of ‘coming together, progress and success’. Awarding Mr. Landon your Career Excellence Award would be most suitable recognition of this accomplishment.
Jon Netts, Mayor