As of Thursday evening there is a new doctor in town, but not the type you go to when you are sick, but one that many hope will help to heal the divide that many see within city hall. Council would vote 5-2 on the first ballot to hire Lee A. Niblock, Ph.D. to fill the void created since last February when Marco’s former manager resigned.
The finalist included: Daniel Alfonso, who has served in various positions within the City of Miami and presently holds the job as City Manager since 2014; David Fraser, who formerly held the position as City Manager in Boulder City, Nevada from 2013 to 2017; William Malinen, who formerly held the position of City Manager in Branson, Missouri from 2013-2017; and Lee Niblock, the former Alachua County Manager in Florida who held that position from November 2014 until September 2017.
Each of the finalists made a brief address to council while their counterparts were secluded in another room above the chambers. Chairman Larry Honig polled his fellow councilors to inquire whether they had any further questions as each candidate concluded their presentation. The dais was silent as no councilor would make any further inquiries. Each candidate had spent 90 minutes earlier in the day with each individual councilor prior to being called into session at the 6 PM hour.
Upon completion of the individual addresses to council all the candidates were invited back into the chambers and the public had an opportunity to address council, but not question the candidates.
Eric Brechnitz, of Hideaway Beach would complement the Mercer Group for bringing forth a much better slate of candidates than on its first attempt. That attempt resulted in the rejection of the only candidate left for consideration.
Former councilman, John Arceri would caution councilors to not consider the terminations of managers from past employment as they deliberate on their final choices. “Very few decisions are based upon performance,” said Arceri. He was alluding to the fact the two of the candidates had been terminated and another had resigned from previous positions.
After close of public comments the board would move into a secret ballot format where Niblock would receive the requisite “super-majority” five votes required for hiring. Only Councilors Brown and Batte would chose not to support the hiring. However, it was Brown who was one of the first to warmly congratulate Niblock on his selection; “I’ll be looking forward to working with you,” said Brown as the two men shook hands on the Chamber floor.
Council would appoint Vice Chair Jared Grifoni and City Attorney Alan Gabriel to negotiate a suitable employment contract between Niblock and the city and report back to council with the details to be voted upon.
Niblock holds a B.S. in Geography/Resource Planning from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters of Arts Degree from the University of Iowa and a Doctorate in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
Niblock and his wife Connie are looking forward to relocating to Marco as soon as December to begin what he describes as his “last job.”