TREASURE ISLAND — Shane Crawford, the former city manager of Madeira Beach, might still have a place in city government, in the next town to the south.
Treasure Island City Commissioner Ralph Kennedy has requested that the topic of appointing Crawford as interim city manager be placed on the agenda for the July 18 commission workshop.
Commissioners, who are seeking applicants to fill the post vacated in May by Reid Silverboard, had voted 3-2 at their last meeting not to move Crawford into a finalist position for the post.
But Kennedy says that, of the 47 applicants for the job, Crawford was the top choice, despite controversy in the past few months that ended with him losing his job in Madeira Beach.
"He would be a good interim because he has addressed the issues we are facing — getting a new city hall, a possible bridge toll and developing public and private partnerships," Kennedy said. "I'm willing to take a chance on his ability. There are always two sides to each story."
Crawford was suspended and his wife, Cheryl, the city clerk, was fired shortly after an election that saw three new commissioners elected in Madeira Beach. He also lost his membership in the International City/County Management Association after an ethics complaint was filed against him when he married the city clerk. The couple settled with the city last week.
Kennedy's suggestion has the support of Vice Mayor Larry Lunn, who had tried unsuccessfully at the commission's last meeting to have Crawford interviewed for the job.
"He (Crawford) made a few errors in judgment but we all do that," said Lunn, who knows Crawford as a fellow Rotarian. "He has shown that he has all the skills we need as a city manager. I think that if you take a purist view, you'll never find anybody fit enough to be city manager. The kind of mistakes he made were not material to the job."
Currently, Finance Director Amy Davis is serving as interim city manager and has been praised for her work, but Lunn said it's not fair to keep her in both roles since the commission has decided to hire an executive search firm, which will lengthen the process.
"Amy stepped into it thinking it was a short-term assignment," Lunn said. "She has her hands full because we are going through the budget process."
Lunn also argued that having Crawford fill in as interim city manager "will give us a better opportunity to see how he will perform."
But at least one of the three other commissioners will need to be won over to vote for Crawford.
Mayor Robert Minning said he is opposed to the idea.
"I don't think it is appropriate to hire an interim who would be on the list (of applicants)," Minning said. "Since we are hiring for the top-most position in the city, I'm going to be very discreet with my comments."
Commissioner Ken Keys said at the last meeting that he liked Crawford personally but thought considering him for city manager would "be too much drama for the city." He declined to comment on whether he would support him as an interim city manager.
City Commissioner Deborah Toth said Crawford isn't a good fit for Treasure Island.
"The fact that his own organization deemed his actions unethical, that sums it up in a nutshell for me," she said. "We need a city manager with a strong ethical background."
Crawford, however, said he would consider the interim job.
"I'm definitely interested," he said. "We would have to sit down and have some discussion to find out what we expect from each other. Maybe they would think they've found their candidate without going out and spending $25,000."
Before becoming city manager in Madeira Beach, Crawford said he lived a year in Treasure Island and is aware of the issues the city is facing.
"I think I can hit the ground running," he said.