Coral Gables

Coral Gables

Gables leaders plan wide search for new city manager

Coral Gables Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr., left, and Mayor Jim Cason, right, discuss the search for a new city manager at a special City Commission meeting Monday night.
Coral Gables Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr., left, and Mayor Jim Cason, right, discuss the search for a new city manager at a special City Commission meeting Monday night.
Joey Flechas / Miami Herald Staff

Coral Gables commissioners made it clear Monday night that they want to cast a wide net in their search for a new city manager by looking in both the public and private sectors.

In a special meeting dedicated to discussing the search, commissioners considered three search firms: Colin Baenziger and Associates, the Mercer Group Inc., and Slavin Management Consultants. Last week, the commission had instructed city staff to find three firms to bring to Monday’s meeting.

The search for a new top administrator comes after former manager Pat Salerno’s sudden resignation two weeks ago.

Before firms made their pitches, the commission heard some advice on best practices in looking for a new manager from Dabney Park Jr., who heads a local executive search firm that was not being considered.

He told commissioners not to rule out members of the private sector who have not had experience as city manager and to avoid using firms that specialize only in municipal executive searches.

“The range of people they can recruit is narrow,” he said.

Commissioners took the suggestion to heart, and later asked each of the three firms about expanding their searches and the related costs.

Mayor Jim Cason said he hoped managers with experience in the private sector could bring good managerial abilities to the job.

“That’s a different skill set,” he said.

The expansion of the criteria means the firms will present new fees for their work, which the commission will consider at a later meeting.

Colin Baenziger, president of his namesake company, told the commission although his firm rarely looks for private-sector candidates for a city manager job, he could provide such candidates.

“Typically we don’t look in the private sector,” he said. “And I personally think the reason is if you are looking for an NBA coach, you don’t hire someone who has been in the NFL.”

Baenziger’s firm conducted the last search for a manager in Coral Gables, which ended with Salerno’s hiring. The firm’s most recent placements include Key Biscayne Village Manager John Gilbert and Pinecrest Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez.

The two other firms spoke to the commission via phone. All the firms said they would have to adjust the proposed fees to account for adding private sector candidates to the mix.

The commission also created a five-person citizen panel to eventually whittle down the list provided by a search firm to about five candidates. Each commissioner nominated a community member to the panel. All members were approved.

Cason nominated Manuel Kadre, who sits on the University of Miami Board of Trustees. Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. nominated former commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers. Commissioner Vince Lago nominated José Mas, CEO of Coral Gables-based MasTec. Commissioner Patricia Keon nominated local attorney Cristina Moreno. Commissioner Frank Quesada nominated Rudy Fernandez, vice president for government and community relations at UM.

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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