Doral has named its new city manager from within.
In a 4-1 vote, the City Council voted Monday night to promote Edward “Eddie” Rojas, the city’s building director, to city manager.
By city charter, Mayor Luigi Boria has the power to nominate a city manager. Boria backed Rojas, saying he values his previous experience with the city and prefers promoting from within.
“We want to keep the talent in-house,” the mayor said.
In a weak-mayor form of government such as Doral’s, the city manager is the top administrator. Rojas will be responsible for running the city’s day-to-day operations and implementing policies set by the City Council.
Boria had shared the applications of eight candidates with council members before Monday night’s meeting. Rojas, who has never served as a city manager before, was universally praised by the council and community members for his efficiency and good relationship with the local business community.
Rojas, 45, has been the city’s building director since last year. In that capacity, he’s overseen an operational budget of about $3 million for a department that handles permitting, code enforcement, plan review and inspections. He was building director in Surfside from 2012 to 2013, and he held various positions in Doral’s building department from 2005 to 2012. Before that, he worked in the private sector for 13 years. He holds a master’s degree in construction management from Florida International University.
Immediately after the approval, Rojas smiled wide as he said he was ready to get to work right away.
“I feel very proud,” he told reporters outside the council chamber before going into his first meeting with department heads. “It’s a very big day for me.”
Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, the dissenting vote, lauded Rojas for his work as a team player and as an efficient director, but she said she was looking for someone with more government experience.
She added that she respected the council’s decision, looked forward to working with Rojas and appreciated the openness of the search process.
“It was more transparent,” she said. “As democratic and transparent as possible.”
The rest of the council said elevating someone from inside City Hall will benefit Doral.
“I do believe in keeping things in the family,” said Vice Mayor Christi Fraga.
Councilwoman Ana Maria Rodriguez pointed to a more efficient building department that runs smoother and faster as reasons for her support of Rojas.
“For those of you who don’t know how our building department was before he stepped in, it was not one of our most illustrious departments.”
Rojas’ appointment comes six weeks after former manager Joe Carollo was fired in another typically tense episode of Doral politics. Vice Mayor Christi Fraga said she had called the meeting to discuss the recent departure of several city employees, but Carollo’s decision to call a press conference to predict his own dismissal rankled her. Fraga moved to fire the outspoken former Miami mayor. Boria and Ruiz, both of whom had tried to oust Carollo before, backed her.
Public works director Jose Olivo has served as interim manager since. The city advertised the position, drawing about 70 applications. Of 34 candidates that met education and experience qualifications, Boria interviewed 10 and eventually chose Rojas.
Rojas will hold a press conference Tuesday morning.