At the Marco Island City Council meeting on August 20, councilors narrowed their search for an interim city manager down to five candidates.
The timetable to conduct interviews was adjusted by council, after realizing that they had not allowed adequate time to obtain background checks on the candidates.
Council should have the background investigation reports in time for their September 4 meeting, and will complete the list of finalists at that time. Candidate meetings and interviews are anticipated to occur between September 11 and 13.
On Friday, August 24, candidate William Vance requested that the Marco Island City Clerk remove his name from consideration. Most recently, Vance served eight years as the city manager for Pickerington, Ohio. He previously served as the town manager for Lady Lake, Florida; Franklinton, N.C.; and Luray, Virginia.
Vance confirmed in a telephone interview that he continues to pursue other opportunities in municipal government management. He preferred not to comment further.
The candidate selection process has been questioned, as two councilors absent from the meeting were permitted to vote via paper ballot provided by the city clerk’s office. In recent years, councilors who were not physically in attendance were not allowed to participate in voting, pursuant to rules that council established for themselves and advisory committees.
There are four candidates remaining for council to consider.
David Harden began his professional career as a math teacher at Okeechobee High School, the very same high school he graduated from. He was the city manager of Delray Beach, Florida from 1990 to 2013. From 2014-15 he was the interim manager for Port Orange, Florida prior to the city hiring a permanent manager.
James Hock began his professional career in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where he spent nine years as assistant city manager. From 1994-2003 he was the assistant city manager of Oak Park, Michigan before his promotion to city manager in 2003. After five years as Oak Park’s city manager, he became the city manager of Park Ridge, Illinois, serving there from 2008-2013. Hock’s last manager position was in Joliet, Illinois, from 2013 to May 2017.
Maria Alberro Menendez served the citizens of Coral Gables, Florida from 1994 to 2012 in various roles as an assistant to the city manager and as the assistant city manager. Prior to that, she served as a zoning/code enforcement officer and within the public works department for that city. From 2012 to 2017, Menendez was the assistant village manager of Pinecrest, Florida.
Donald Stilwell was Lee County’s longest serving county manager, serving 16 years until his forced resignation in late 2013 for misuse of the county’s computer email system. In January 2014 Stilwell became interim city manager for Fort Myers Beach, and was eventually hired for the permanent city manager position. Stilwell was fired in 2016 by the Fort Myers Beach City Council for issues regarding non-payment of vendors. Before coming to Florida, Stilwell had extensive county manager experience in California and Oregon, in addition to private sector experience.
Council has sought the assistance of the Florida City and County Manager’s Association to fill the city manager position, which aside from the short, embarrassing stint by Lee Niblock, has remained vacant since February 2017.
In the ensuing months, Finance Director Gil Polanco has served as the city’s interim city manager. Polanco recently drew criticism from at least two councilors on delivery of public services, which prompted a more energized effort to replace him with another temporary manager.
Council will review the candidates’ background checks before selecting finalists at their next meeting on September 4, beginning at 5:30 PM in Council Chambers at 51 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island.