Town Council selects local resident Edward Pidermann as new Town Manager

Thursday, December 20, 2018 0 Comments

Town Council selects local resident Edward Pidermann as new Town Manager
A year long search for a new town manager for Miami Lakes has concluded, as a local resident was chosen over a selection committee’s top choice for the job.
The Miami Lakes Town Council tapped Edward Pidermann, an assistant chief of management service for Broward County’s fire department, over the front runner, Ana Garcia, a city manager for North Miami Beach following resident’s pleas that a town resident should be given the job.
The selection committee ranked Garcia its top choice over Pidermann, who initially was an alternate candidate but became one of the five finalists after several hopefuls dropped out of the running.
Miami Lakes resident and Bay Harbor Islands new Town Manager JC Jimenez; Bell City, California Manager Howard Brown; and Miami Lakes’ Chief Financial Officer Ismael Diaz, were also among the five finalists to replace Alex Rey, who’s retiring to take advantage of the government Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP).
But Jimenez withdrew his candidacy after he was appointed the new town manager for Bay Harbor Islands.
The decision drew the ire of several residents, who accused council members of violating the town’s charter by choosing Pidermann behind closed doors, indicating the requirements for the position didn’t include residency for the town manager.
Pidermann’s start date is February 4 following a transition period with Rey and the new town manager’s staff.
Mayor Manny Cid said he picked Pidermann, who served on the original town charter committee, since he’s the only candidate who’s a resident among other qualifications the town is seeking in a town manager.
Cid said he sat down with the four finalists and asked each of them the same question which was a deal breaker for him.
“Would you move to Miami Lakes? Some of them didn’t give a clear answer,” Cid said at the December 4 regular meeting. “The caveat for the position was moving to Miami Lakes.”
Cid said the town manager should be a resident since he’s the CEO of the town and managing a budget worth about $30 million.
“The new town manager should have an investment in Miami Lakes, he said. “I saw the type of structure in picking a town manager to move here or someone who already lives here.”
But Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez, who nominated Garcia, disagreed.
The Coral Gables firefighter said the town manager doesn’t need to be a resident to be effective in running the day-to-day operations of the 6.5 square-mile town.
“I work and participate in events in a city where I don’t live in,” he said.
Rodriguez also said it’s unfair for the candidates to buy a home in Miami Lakes when they can be terminated at any time.
“It only takes 72 hours to terminate the town manger and to ask or request that person to move to Miami Lakes is unreasonable,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said Garcia was the best candidate for the job considering her track record of municipal experience and residents embraced her during the selection process.
“During the meet and greet, residents were high on Ana Garcia,” Rodriguez said. “I have huge respect for Ed Pidermann. He’s a class act to the community, but I’m using my analogy for football and the best draft pick I see is a superstar and I can’t give that up. And that person is Ana Garcia.”
Councilmember Marilyn Ruano also picked Garcia because she can pick up where Rey left off without missing a beat.
“All four candidates are fantastic but Ana Garcia has all the qualifications we are looking for and then some,” she said. “In my opinion, she’s a shining star is this field and I support her appointment.”
But Rodriguez and Ruano were out numbered, as Cid and new Council members Josh Dieguez, Jefferey Rodriguez and Carlos Alvarez picked Pidermann over Garcia.
Councilmember Luis Cozallo recused himself citing a conflict of interest.
Besides being a Miami Lakes resident, Dieguez said he picked Pidermann who accumulated a stellar career in public service, and he’s capable of managing a budget and town staff.
“He wasn’t my initial choice but when I got to know him, he understands the town,” Dieguez said. “He has a plan in place to ensure a strong team and keep the strong institution of knowledge. He has earned my respect and my nomination.”
Jeffrey Rodriguez said Pidermann, who manages a $100 million budget for the fire department, knows the ins and outs of Miami Lakes.
“He has the confidence and ability to work with the council and residents for the betterment of Miami Lakes,” he said.
Alvarez echoed similar sentiments. “A town manager tells people what to do but a leader leads by example,” he said. “Ed Pidermann would be that person who would lead by example.”
Following his colleagues’ support for Pidermann, Nelson Rodriguez voted for him, saying the new town manager should have council members’ unanimous vote. Ruano voted for Pidermann as well.
“I think our new town manager should have our full support,” Nelson Rodriguez said.
Cid said the town manager selection procedure was difficult since residents changed the town’s charter, which took away the mayor’s power to solely nominate the town manager.
He said as the newly-elected mayor, he was disappointed he didn’t have the same power as former mayors Wayne Slaton and Michael Pizzi.
Cid said he would’ve picked the town’s parks and recreation director, Tony Lopez, had he applied for the job.
“Tony Lopez would be an incredible choice for town manager,” Cid said.
Some residents cried foul over the caveat the town manager must be a resident, and Garcia was more qualified for the position.
“Ana Garcia was solid and the only choice to replace an outgoing professional like Alex Rey. Huge mistake by the Town Council tonight,” said Yudy Pineriro Coll.
Dr. David Bennett, who chaired the Miami Lakes Charter Revision Committee, said he may lead a recall effort for council members who were accused of violating the town’s charter.
“The town council violated the intent of the town’s charter and the will of the people of Miami Lakes.” he said. “Beginning in January, we will be calling for the recall of those council members who have violated the intent of the town’s charter.”
Abel Fernandez, a retired firefighter, said: “This decision was cut and made before this meeting. Such utter nonsense.”
But some residents and Pidermann’s former firefighter colleagues said he was the best choice since he’s been a part of the Miami Lakes community for years.
Jim Hamilton, a longtime Miami Lakes Optimist Club member, told council members Pidermann has been involved in a lot of his organization’s activities for years.
“He’s been engaged in this community and he has a strong resume,” Hamilton said. “We want a town manager who lives here and shares the same experience as residents.”
Maurice Kemp, a deputy mayor for Miami-Dade County and a retired fire chief for Miami, said he worked with Pidermann throughout the years and knows he can get the job done.
“Ed Pidermann has worked on every level of the fire department,” he said. “Every success we had, Ed was a part of it and we endured some challenges. He can manage and handle anything.”
Former Miami-Dade fire chief and resident Herminio Lorenzo also endorsed Pidermann for the job.
“Mr. Pidermann is an asset to the town and can carry out the duties of a town manager and do an excellent job,” he said.
Following his confirmation for the town manager’s job, Pidermann told council members he’s grateful they picked him. “It’s been a long time and a lengthy process but I thank it produced the right results,” he said. “Thank you for your confidence in me.”
Piderman began his 30-year professional career with the City of Miami Fire-Rescue Department in 1985, retiring in March 2016 after holding a multitude of positions culminating with his final management position as Deputy Fire Chief of Operations. He served as president of the Miami Association of Fire Fighters (I.A.F.F.) Local 587 from 2001-2006.
He holds a Master of Public Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, Associates of Science Degrees in both Emergency Medical Services and Fire Science Technology.
Together with his wife Martha of 34 years, they have resided in Miami Lakes for over 26 years and raised their three adult children (Michelle, Eddy Jr. and Jennifer) in the town.
In addition to serving as a member of the initial Town Charter committee in 2000, he also served on the Town’s Youth Activities Task Force.
In other Town Council news:
• Council members approved Alvarez’s request to have the county conduct a speed study on Balgowan Road, starting from the guard gate and stretching to Ardoch Road to determine the best traffic calming device in the area.
• Council members approved Jeffrey Rodriguez’s proposal to instruct the town manger to ban or restrict the use of glyphosate-based herbicides in public parks, lakes and other town property to protect children and pets.
Lawmakers also approved Rodriguez’s request for a measure to reduce the speed limit on Miami Lakeway North and Miami Lakeway South from 35 MPH to 30 near residential neighborhoods.
The town has the option of using a radar screen to measure the speed of motorists telling them to slow down if they are going over 30 MPH or another traffic calming device such as the black box.
• Council members approved Nelson Rodriguez’s proposal to change the council meeting date back to the original second Tuesday of each month.
• Council members approved Dieguez’s request for the town to place at least one police officer at the Movies at the Park event since it draws a massive crowd. The proposal is part of former Council member Ceaser Mestre’s Public Safety Act to protect residents from any danger during a large event.
• Council members approved Jeffrey Rodriguez’s request to reintroduce the town’s police reserve program, which allows retired law enforcement officials and police officers living in Miami Lakes to volunteer to help prevent crime and assist with traffic congestion in exchange for keeping their certification.
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