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Five in running for St. Pete Beach manager job

ST. PETE BEACH — The five candidates vying for the job as the city's next manager will face a broad number of issues, including unifying a community deeply divided over how the city's tourism sector will be redeveloped.

The manager finalists will meet with residents Wednesday at the community center (6 p.m.) and be interviewed both privately and publicly (1 p.m. at City Hall) by the commission on Thursday. The final selection will be made during the commission's regular meeting Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.

Here are the candidates:

Bret A. Bauer, 35, is the only one of the five still working as a city manager and the only one without experience in Florida.

As the manager of Holton (Kan.), population 3,500, for more than four years, Bauer helped revitalize economic redevelopment in the city's downtown commercial district, cut the city's debt in half and helped persuade voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to address a very aging infrastructure, including a 100-year-old sanitary sewer system.

"Mr. Bauer is far too good to stay in Holton for much longer," says Janet Zwonitzer, a former Holton commissioner. "He is innovative, but practical at the same time."

Robert "Bob" Kellogg, 61, left his seven-year post as town manager of Sewall's Point last year following disagreements with that town's commission. Previously, he was city manager in Rittman, Ohio, for 17 years.

During his tenure in Sewall's Point, population 2,100, Kellogg dealt with an aging infrastructure and declining revenues. At Rittman, he oversaw construction of a wastewater treatment facility, as well as new buildings for EMS, public safety and recreation.

Kellogg "sees the big picture," has "very good vision," and did an "excellent job of infrastructure planning," according to Rittman Mayor Bill Robertson.

Patrick "Pat" G. Salerno, 63, was city manager of Coral Gables, population 50,000, for five years until this year.

During his tenure in Coral Gables, the city received numerous national and international accolades, including being named one of the "Top Five Most Livable Communities in the World."

When he was hired, Coral Gables was almost bankrupt, according to Mayor Jim Cason. Salerno refinanced the city's debt, lowered property taxes, reduced staff and rebuilt the city's reserves from $3.4 million to $29 million, and began a major redevelopment plan.

"I see the challenges facing St. Pete Beach as opportunities to use my skills and experience to marshal the community's assets to achieve its full potential," Salerno says.

David "Wayne" Saunders, 65, most recently was finance director for Port Orange, population 58,000, but previously was Clermont's city manager for 27 years.

Among the issues he dealt with were aging infrastructures, construction of new city facilities (City Hall, fire stations, police station, recreation facilities), and redevelopment of Clermont's historic downtown.

"The rapid growth of Clermont provided me with significant hands-on experience dealing with writing, amending and defending the Comprehensive Plan and Development codes," says Saunders.

Hal Turville, Clermont's mayor, describes Saunders as "a strong fiscal leader" who has the "knowledge and talent to confidently guide a city financially."

E. Ann Toney-Deal, 53, was city manager in Haines City for 19 years. Previously she was a top administrator in North Miami Beach and Boynton Beach.

While in Haines City, she successfully restructured the city's debt, increased revenues without raising taxes, and worked to redevelop the city's historic downtown, largely by enlisting private sector participation.

Toney-Deal lists the land assembly of the Lake Eva Complex through a variety of grants and CRA financing as a major accomplishment.

"She is innovative. She has a vision for the city and knows what steps she needs to take to make that vision a reality," says Mike Herr, former Polk County manager.