MADEIRA BEACH — Today, the City Commission will pick three men, one of whom is likely to be the city's next city manager.
For the past two weeks, commissioners studied the backgrounds and qualifications of seven candidates before filling out ballot forms listing their top three selections.
Those ballots will be tallied at the commission's 5 p.m. workshop session today.
The commission is also expected to discuss a tentative property tax rate at that workshop.
The three highest vote-getters for the city manager post will then undergo in-depth background investigations, including credit checks and criminal history checks.
Assuming that all three finalists pass those checks, the commission will schedule public interviews and introduce the finalists to the community in an informal "meet-and-greet" social function.
Interim City Manager and fire Chief Bill Mallory said no dates for the interviews or social have been set and are unlikely to be held until either later this month or early in August, when the entire commission is available.
The three finalists will be picked from among seven candidates selected last month from a larger list of 20 applicants:
• Robert C. Bannister Jr.: The Ohio resident has 11 years of government experience, including two years as a city manager and eight years in public works. He most recently served as village manager for Lincoln Heights, Ohio, and previously held a series of senior management positions for the city of Chicago. He holds a master's degree in public administration.
• Shane B. Crawford: He serves as deputy county administrator in charge of public works, purchasing and intergovernmental relations for Walworth County, Wis. He previously was county administrator for Buffalo County in Wisconsin and served as an elected city council member and county board supervisor in La Crosse, Wis. He holds bachelor's degrees in public administration and political science.
• James P. Gleason: The interim city manager in Mascotte previously served as city manager for Chamblee, Ga., as well as a city manager/county adviser to the U.S. government in Kirkuk, Iraq. He also was city manager in Woodstock, Ga., and Ocoee. He holds a master's degree in public administration.
• Ken Hurst: The retired Special Forces colonel was based at MacDill and most recently served in Iraq. He has 26 years' experience in government, including three years managing public works and three years as a local government administrator. He has master's degrees in strategic studies and in human resources.
• Ray Irvin: The Palm Harbor resident recently retired from a 23-year career in governmental management in Indiana, where he managed local, regional, and statewide public works and recreational projects. The Vietnam veteran served as a city commissioner in Indianapolis and as director of the Indiana Department of Transportation. He holds a bachelor's degree in business.
• Peter Lombardi: The former Treasure Island city manager from 1979 to 1996 has 42 years of government management experience, including 15 years of public works experience. He serves as village manager for Pinecrest, and his contract ends in August. He holds a bachelor's degree in public administration.
• James Sundermeier: He has 16 years of public works experience and served one year as an interim city manager. He holds a bachelor's degree in public recreation and has completed graduate work in public administration.
Under state law, candidates who served in the armed forces must be given preferential consideration. Commissioners also said they prefer candidates who belong to national or Florida professional associations.
The key qualification, in addition to some level of city management, is a strong background in public works.
The newly elected mayor and commission, focused on efficiency and saving money, want the new city manager to wear two hats: that of the top city administrator and of the director of public works.
An earlier commission pick to fill that dual post, Allen Godfrey, declined the job after two commissioners — Terry Lister and Carol Reynolds — called him unqualified.
The city has been without a city manager since February when W.D. Higginbotham Jr. successfully asked the commission to fire him, citing potential differences with the in-coming mayor and commission.
Still pending is a lawsuit filed against the city by former City Manager Jim Madden disputing the legality of the commission's vote to terminate Higginbotham.