Town Manager candidates narrowed to 5, 2 alternates

Thursday, September 6, 2018 0 Comments

Town Manager candidates narrowed to 5, 2 alternates

 

Anna Garcia is handy with a chainsaw if needed for hurricane clean-up, Dennis Stark is a big fan of social media, and at the age of 66, John Bauer still has something left in the tank to run a city.

In addition, Howard Brown is familiar with Miami Lakes and the town’s strategic plan when he worked for Opa-locka, Albert Childress is seeking a final step in his 35 years in government and Juan Jimenez would do anything to land the job including improving the town’s website himself.

The group of city managers, assistant city managers and former top city administrators were among the candidates interviewed for the town manager’s position for Miami Lakes, as a selection committee narrowed its picks down to 5 finalists and two alternates.

Garcia, city manager for the City of North Miami Beach; Brown, a city manager for Bell City, California; Jimenez, an assistant town manager for Bay Harbor Islands; Miami Lakes resident and veteran firefighter Edward Pidermann; and Miami Lakes’ Chief Financial Officer Ismael Diaz made the final cut.

Wilmington, North Carolina interim City Manager John Bauer, and PGA West (California) General Manager Scott Randall were named alternates should any of the finalists drop out the running.  

The Town Council will interview the final cut of candidates sometime this year to determine the best person for the job.

The Miami Lakes Selection Committee initially picked 17 candidates for the job but five of them withdrew their candidacy, leaving 12 job seekers to appear before the group during two days of interviews last week in person or via Skype.    

Garcia is the front-runner for the job, as the committee gave her the highest score on their score cards.

During her interview, Garcia said she’s a good fit to manager the 6.5 square-mile town, alluding to her achievements for the northeast city with a population of 45,000 residents and managing a $165 million budget. 

North Miami Beach is the second largest water utility in Miami-Dade County serving 180,000 customers; she created a new comprehensive and zoning plan to bring the city to the 21st century unleashing the economic potential for North Miami Beach, resulting in about $500 million in private investment, which led to the No. 1 ranking city in Miami-Dade for new construction and increased property values in 2015 and No. 3 in 2017; and initiated the city’s first ever parks master plan which includes parks, greenways blue ways and open space in excess of $5 million.

Garcia said she can lead an effective management team to accomplish the goals in the town’s strategic plan.

“I don’t mind using a chainsaw to assist staff and residents to clean up after a hurricane,” she added. “That’s the type of manager I am.”

Brown, former acting city manager for Opa-locka, where he helped the city manager guide the city through its financial crisis, said he can hit a homerun in Miami Lakes compared to his previous government experiences.

“I have the skills, experience and education background to be the next town manager,” he said.

In Bell City, Brown manages a $32 million budget and oversees more than 150 employees while serving 50,000 residents. 

He said Miami Lakes gives him a “great” opportunity to come back to South Florida, where he grew up.

Brown said he’s familiar with the issues in Miami Lakes and is willing to carryout the wishes of council members and residents.

“I have the desire to look at the goals and create a road map to where the council wants to go,” he said. 

Brown said he has the ability to turn ineffective employees around.

“I had one employee on his way out but I turned him into a good department head,” he said. 

Jimenez said he wanted the town manager’s job in Miami Lakes in 2001 following incorporation, but he didn’t have the experience.

Now he does.

“I want this job,” he said. “It’s the only job I have ever applied for.”

In Bay Harbor Island, Jimenez, who has over 16 years of government experience, assists the town manger in overseeing the day-to-day operations of a government with 90 employees with a $23 million budget. 

He is responsible for direct oversight and budgeting of the public works department, parks and recreation, solid waste and public transit.

His duties also include grant administration, community rating system coordinator, intergovernmental affairs coordinator and emergency management coordinator.    

Jimenez coordinated the town’s planning and design for the Causeway Corridor Improvement project, which is partially funded by a federal earmark, and the Kane Concourse sidewalk replacement project with decorative brick pavers and decorative street furniture.

Jimenez, who grew up in Hialeah, was an assistant to the village manager for Key Biscayne after serving as an intern during his college career.

He was seeking a government career in Washington D.C. but faith kept him in South Florida, where his career flourished.

“The first year in Miami Lakes, I would tackle the strategic plan for traffic and improve transportation,” he said. “Those are issues I want to tackle immediately.”

Jimenez has roots in Miami Lakes.

He played soccer and baseball at the Optimist Club of Miami Lakes and Main Street was his family’s popular handout.

“Miami Lakes has always been special to me,” he said.

Jimenez said the town’s website can be approved and he can do it himself.

Diaz has been Miami Lakes’ chief financial officer for three years.

The Miami Lakes resident’s duties include supervising accounting practices, finance, investment program, risk management, bonds, payroll, FRS, cost recovery, financial reporting, special taxing districts and interaction with procurement operations.

He previously was the CFO for Collins Center for Public Policy, a $12 million organization; a controller for CCCI, Inc., a $70 million charitable organization; and a corporate controller for Western Union, a $300 million money transfer company serving LATAM.

“I want to be part of the development, redevelopment and improvement of Miami Lakes,” he said. “The strategic plan is great and I want to see it through and leave my legacy.”

Diaz said he’s in position to protect the town’s budget and make sure Miami Lakes never experiences insolvency.

“The health condition of the town’s budget is good,” he said. “But just because we have money in the bank doesn’t mean we can relax.”

Pidermann, who worked in every operational division of the City of Miami Fire-Rescue Department during a 30-plus career, said he loves his hometown and wants to be the town manager.

“This is not a stepping stone for another job,” he said. “This would be my final job.”

Pidermann said he has the leadership skills, educational background, community involvement and work experience to best fulfill the demands to become the next town manager.

He lists his accomplishments as emergency management experience for hurricanes by working with the Hurricane Andrew Recovery Task Force and later was Miami’s emergency manager as well as the public information office.

He was promoted to deputy fire chief and operating a $132 million budget, and he oversaw the communications division, which was responsible for Information Technology.

Most recently, he worked for the Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue Department, giving him insight into the public safety demands of Broward County.

He was promoted to assistant chief and ran a $125 million budget.

As a resident, Pidermann said he understands the town’s strategic plan and public safety as the top priority for residents.

“I would like to move forward with our strategic plan and accelerate projects as much as possible in the first year,” he said. “I want to make sure that we realize residents are not here to serve our team, the employees are here to service the residents.”

Bauer indicated his age is just a number and he can do a better job than most of his younger peers.

“I still got something left in the tank,” he said.

 He has nearly 40 years of government experience. He previously was an interim city manager for the City of Southport, North Carolina, and had two stints as county manager for Pended County in North Carolina.

He managed an average budget of $66 million and oversaw more than 350 employees during his stints.

Bauer said he was given the Keys to the City in Southport.

“I felt like a kid in a candy store,” he said.

He said communication among town staff, council members and residents is a critical issue and he would be a hands-on town manager.

Bauer said he admires the town’s park and can prepare a plan to improve them and was amazed when he learned the town had the fastest clean-up and recovery plan following Hurricane Irma.

Randall said he can create an action plan with his management team and accomplish the projects in Miami Lakes’ strategic plan within a year. 

He said his experience includes learning the town’s issues and challenges and immediately tackle them head on.

“Your strategic plan gets my juices going,” he said. “I can have a significant impact in carrying out your plans.”

Randall is skilled in governmental finance, budgeting and revenue enhancement; creating effective public and private partnerships; implementing successful economic development projects, capital improvement planning and construction; and developing public education/community outreach programs.

At PGA West Association, he oversees a 3,000 household, gated golfing community.

His duties include financial management, gates and security, landscaping and community outreach.

Randall was a general manager for Hot Springs Village in Arkansas, a privately-owned, full-service and gated community consisting of more than 40 square miles and serving 34,000 property owners and 15,000 residents.

He managed a $33 million budget for operational expenses and capital improvements and oversaw 550 employees.

Randall said the organizations’ success stemmed on the employees’ knowledge of all the departments duties.

“Every department should know which each department is doing,” he said. “The police department should know what the parks department is doing. I make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Other candidates who interviewed for the job but didn’t make the final cut were Stark and Childress, who appeared upbeat and optimistic about the future of Miami Lakes during their interviews; Bob Vitas, former the town manger for South Palm Beach, Florida; Lyndon L. Bonner, county manager for Jackson County; and Sergio Purrinos, a consultant for City Consulting Service in Miami.

 

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