MADEIRA BEACH — A 6 p.m. social hour Monday at City Hall will be the public's only opportunity to meet and question five of the six people vying to become their next city manager.
The sixth candidate will be at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to meet with residents.
On Tuesday, individual city commissioners will meet privately with each of the six candidates — without the public and media present to witness how the candidates answer questions about their background, skills and vision for the city.
Then, a week later at their regular Nov. 22 meeting, commissioners plan to take a straw vote, without public discussion, to narrow the candidate list to two or three top choices.
Some debate may occur, or the commission could simply pick a city manager, according to the city's search consultant, Colin Baenziger. "Whoever gets three votes is your next manager. Usually the whole process can be done in 15 to 20 minutes," Baenziger told the commission earlier this week.
The city has been without a city manager since February when W.D. Higginbotham Jr. asked the commission to fire him.
Since then, all but one of the city's top administrators have left — either by resigning or because the commission eliminated their positions.
Gone are the city clerk, the finance director, the community development director, the community services (public works) director, and the human resources director.
So far, only the city clerk has been replaced. Some of those departed administrators had worked for the city for decades. Of the original city management team, only Marina Director Capt. Dave Marsicano remains. He is now also supervising the public works department.
Over the past eight months, the commission, led by newly elected Mayor Travis Palladeno, and Commissioners Robin Vander Velde and Nancy Oakley came under increasing criticism for the continuing political turmoil in the city.
Multiple attempts to find and hire a permanent city manager failed after two commission picks dropped out during contract negotiations.
Most recently, Fire Chief Bill Mallory quit as interim city manager as he came under increasing criticism from some commissioners.
Mallory was replaced as interim city manager by resident and former city manager Jim Madden.
Now the city is poised to again try to hire a permanent city manager, who can both run the city and act as the city's public works director.
The candidates are:
Gary R. Clough, public services director in Casper, Wyo., who manages about 200 full-time staffers and more than 50 seasonal workers. He is responsible for a $68 million operating budget and $50 million in capital improvements annually.
Rick Conner, who most recently was city manager and public works director for Sunny Isles Beach in South Florida, where he supervised about 200 employees and managed a $27 million operating budget and a $35 million capital budget.
Shane B. Crawford, deputy county administrator in charge of central services for Walworth County, Wis. He handles a $160 million annual budget and is responsible for public works, intergovernmental relations and central purchasing.
Jim McBeath, services director for Louisville, Ohio, where he is responsible for seven departments including water, sewer, streets, structures and parks.
Danielle Pitt Slaterpryce, previously a senior project manager for Kimley-Horn & Associates in Miramar Beach, and public works director and county engineer for Okaloosa County, where she supervised more than 200 employees and managed a $23 million budget.
Judy S. Whitis, city manager for Callaway, Fla., where she manages a $33 million annual budget and supervises all city departments including a fire department that services an area with 44,000 residents.
Extensive results of background checks, interviews and reference comments compiled by the search consultant are available for public review by request to the city clerk.