The City Manager Race is On

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Fort Myers residents are keeping an eye on a political arena that’s a little closer to home. Since Fort Myers is the governmental center of Lee County, conversations about elections flow through the area regularly.

The race for the city manager position is a hot ticket on the docket. Two promising candidates — Broward County deputy county administrator Roberto Hernandez, and former Coral Gables city manager Patrick Salerno, have dropped out of the race. Four candidates remain for consideration.

It was reported back in December that the city spent in excess of $23,000 on an executive search firm to find formidable candidates to potentially fill the vacant seat. Saeed Kazemi, currently a contender for the permanent city manager position, is currently acting as the interim manager. He previously presided over the Public Works department.

The remaining hopefuls will receive a tour of the city on Feb. 8, followed by a reception that will allow the general public to meet the candidates in person. On Feb. 9, candidates will meet individually with current members of the city council prior to responding to group questions from from the council at large at a public meeting.

It may be hard to believe, but the concept of a city manager was invented in Dayton, OH back at the turn of the century in response to a 1913 flood. The idea of a monetarily compensated, non-partisan addition to the local council who is in charge of managing bureaucracy and infrastructure spread across the globe. The responsibilities of a city manager include, but are not limited to: budgeting, hiring and firing of subordinates, keeping track of governmental operations, meeting with community stakeholders, managing bids for city contracts, and holding regular meeting with council members. City managers traditionally report to the city council.

The City of Fort Myers posts the minutes from city council meetings on its website. Headed by Mayor Randall P. Henderson, Jr., the city council is divided into six wards headed up by a single council member. The current Fort Myers council members are Teresa Watkins Brown (Ward 1), Johnny W. Streets, Jr. (Ward 2), Terolyn P. Watson (Ward 3), Michael Flanders (Ward 4), Forrest Banks (Ward 5), and Gaile H. Anthony (Ward 6).

The new city manager for Fort Myers will have an epic job ahead of him. This is not due to difficulties in Fort Myers on either a political or social front, but rather the monumental vision for the city set forth by the current government. In 2013, a strategic plan spanning from 2013-2028 was issued, laying out a consummate vision for the city that includes, “opportunities for economic prosperity and a relaxed lifestyle” for Fort Myers residents.

Fort Myers is a great place to live and work but, in both life and work, not everything goes according to plan. If you own a business that has been adversely affected by another business acting against a city ordinance, contact Morgan & Morgan’s Business Trial Group for a free consultation on how we may assist your company.

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