On Tuesday evening, the Marco Island City Council pared down the number of applicants for the interim-city manager position to only three possibilities. They would choose not to interview the former longtime Lee County Manager and previous city manager of Fort Myers Beach, Don Stilwell.
Stilwell was given the opportunity to leave Lee County, rather than be terminated, when photos of a sexual nature were found to be transmitted from his work computer at his county office. He was fired from his position at Fort Myers Beach after questions arose concerning his handling of vendor contracts and payment practices.
The fact that Stilwell’s name made it to this point has caused some to question the process that allowed his resume to move forward, advancing him as one of the final five candidates to have initial background checks performed. One of those five finalists, William Vance, withdrew from consideration after being chosen at the last council meeting in August.
“Given the circumstances surrounding the departure of our last manager and the financial cost to the community this is another embarrassment,” said Marco resident Bill McMullan. During citizen comments McMullan questioned the legality of the votes taken at the last meeting, wherein two absent councilors were allowed to vote in absentia with written ballots to choose the five finalist candidates. City Attorney Alan Gabriel advised council that he found no violation of Florida law regarding council’s acceptance of those ballots.
The final three candidates which will be subjected to further review are:
David Harden, the former longtime manager of Delray Beach for 23 years who also served for one year as the interim manager in Port Orange, Florida
James D. Hock who most recently was the City Manager for Joliet, Illinois from 2013-17. Hock served for 14 years as both the Assistant and City Manager of Oak Park, Michigan. He also served in several other Michigan and Illinois communities in various positions.
Maria Alberro Menendez recently served as the Assistant Village Manager of Pinecrest, Florida from 2012 to 2017. She had served in various capacities from 1981 to 2012 in the City of Coral Gables, Florida, ending her career there as the Assistant City Manager.
Councilor Howard Reed would again caution his fellow councilors that they should be wary of moving too quickly and should wait until the final background checks are completed. Council would agree to push out the interview process for an additional three weeks and have candidates visit the city on September 25 to 27 for interviews and an open session with council.