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Merrett Stierheim named interim city manager of Doral

Former Miami-Dade county manager Merrett Stierheim has added another title to an already lengthy resume: He’s now the interim city manager of Doral.

The city council unanimously approved the veteran bureaucrat this week, just a few days after new mayor Luigi Boria was sworn in.

Stierheim will serve as the temporary replacement following the departure of City Manager Yvonne Soler-McKinley, which was announced at a meeting Tuesday.

Boria, who knew of the manager’s decision late last week, nominated Stierheim after interviewing other candidates over the weekend.

“I studied his resume then I realized he was really a capable person to get the job,” said Boria to the Miami Herald.

Stierheim is a 45-year veteran in the public sector and first served as manager of Miami-Dade County from 1976 to 1986, where he supervised a nearly $5 billion countywide infrastructure expansion including the construction of Miami Metro Zoo, now Zoo Miami, the downtown library and cultural complex, the government center and several regional parks.

He also served as interim city manager of the City of Miami in 1996 and in 1998 was asked to return to Miami-Dade County where he worked until 2001.

Stierheim was named superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools in October 2001 where he served until June 2004. Among other public sector positions, he also served as interim town manager of the newly incorporated Miami Lakes in 2001.

“My purpose here is to bring what professional experience and judgment I have to the city of Doral, which is a wonderful city and very progressive city,” said Stierheim , 79, who will be paid $9,500 a month for his services.

The Pinecrest resident added he has no interest in taking on the role for good, and will be helping the council and mayor in finding a permanent replacement.

In her letter, which was read during a special council meeting Tuesday, Soler-McKinley explained she’d made a commitment to former mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez that she’d stay on as manager until the end of his term.

“As the end of my commitment to Mayor Bermudez was approaching, I had an opportunity to examine the future,” wrote Soler-McKinley, who was not at the meeting.

Soler-McKinley said later she approved of the mayor’s choice for a temporary replacement.

In a text message to the Miami Herald she wrote: “I am honored the mayor chose the iconic Merrett Stierheim to replace me. I know the city is in good hands and he will continue the good work we set in motion over the last four years.”

Speculation about the city manager’s fate provided plenty of political fodder during mayoral campaign, contributing to a relatively heated election season for a young town who until last month had only had one mayor since it incorporated less than a decade ago.

Former councilman and mayoral candidate Pete Cabrera, who had publicly clashed with Soler-McKinley as well as the chief of police, lost a spot in the run-off but endorsed Boria.

The endorsement was criticized by Boria rival Frank Bolaños, who accused Cabrera of trading his endorsement for a promise that Boria would sack the city manager and chief.

Both Boria and Cabrera denied any deal was struck.

Soler-McKinley, who does not have another job lines up, said she is proud of the work she and her staff accomplished during her time with the city, including the development of parks and municipal buildings within the city.

Boria, himself a former councilman, noted he worked with Soler-McKinley for about two years and said she was “outstanding.”

“I don’t have any complaints about her job,” said Boria in an interview following the meeting.

“It’s her decision and I have to applaud her that she is looking for other challenges,” said Boria in an interview following the meeting Tuesday, adding it’s normal for "people in high levels to step down and look for new horizons."

Soler-McKinley is leaving the city with a severance package that includes six months’ salary, totaling $88,364.64, six months of retirement contribution at 12 percent of salary and three months health insurance.

The council unanimously approved the severance package.