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North Miami Beach hires Biscayne Park manager as its own

The North Miami Beach council has hired a new city manager.

In a 4-3 decision made on July 2, the council picked Biscayne Park Village Manager Ana Garcia to take on the role.

“I am extremely honored to start this new chapter in my professional career,” Garcia said Friday in a phone interview.

Garcia, 51, has about two decades of experience working in various municipalities in Miami-Dade County, including South Miami and Palmetto Bay.

“I am excited and humbled, but very confident because of where I have been and what I have done,” Garcia said.

Earlier this year, the council laid the foundation for their manager search when current manager Roslyn Weisblum was going through her six-month evaluation — the city charter mandates that a new hire to that position be put on a six-month probation upon taking the job.

“The hiring of a city manager is one of the most important decisions we make up here,” said Mayor George Vallejo. “We wanted someone who knows his or her way around Dade County, somebody who had contacts, somebody who has good connections with the county.”

Last month, the council interviewed the top four candidates for the position, which included Garcia and Weisblum.

During the July 2 meeting, Councilwoman Marlen Martell said that she felt it was time for the city to take on a new direction.

“I think we as a council can express to [Garcia] some of the things we’d like to see moving forward,” Martell said. “I think she has the strength and the ability. She has a lot of support in different areas, and I truly believe she is going to be an asset to the city.”

Councilwoman Beth E. Spiegel, Councilwoman Phyllis Smith and Councilwoman Barbara Kramer opposed the decision to hire Garcia.

Their concerns included Garcia’s qualifications to sit in the manager seat.

Spiegel said she didn’t like that Garcia hasn’t managed a city the size of North Miami Beach in the past, along with some of the issues the city currently faces, such as pension reform.

“I don’t want to be her training ground, her learning ground,” Spiegel said. “I don’t believe, no matter how talented she may be, that she can come in, grasp the reins of our city and understand how to get the budget done so we can responsibly approve a budget in eight weeks.”

Garcia said that she understands the concern and will use it as “fuel” to drive herself.

“Whether you are managing 100 people or 500 people, the same principles apply,” Garcia said. “The goal of any good leader and manager is to leave a place much better than when you found it. There is a great foundation in North Miami Beach. We need to work to bring the city to new heights.”

A contract has yet to be signed by Garcia, but the city is expected to discuss those terms at an upcoming council meeting.

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