Coral Gables

Committee to interview eight candidates for Coral Gables city manager

A Coral Gables citizen committee will bring in eight city manager candidates for interviews on Aug. 22 in the next step of a months-long search for a new top administrator.

The committee met Friday to narrow down the list of 16 names submitted by headhunting firm Colin Baenziger and Associates earlier this month. The firm had provided 15 candidates, but before Friday, three candidates dropped out because of other job offers or because they changed their mind.

Committee members said the public search can deter good candidates from applying or staying in the race once their names have been made public. Florida’s broad public records law allows anyone to view applications once they’ve been submitted to the city, which can often cause currently-employed candidates to pull back.

“Considering the public nature of the process, I think we got the best candidates possible,” said committee member Jose Mas.

The firm provided four more names to round out a field of 16 for Friday’s meeting, where the committee whittled down the list to eight who will be brought in for interviews this week. The citizen committee will conduct 30-minute interviews of the eight candidates starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday at City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way.

Through a vote where each committee member picked their preferred candidates, eight got support from a majority of the five-person committee:

• Arthur Noriega, CEO of the Miami Parking Authority. Noriega was the only candidate to get a vote from the entire committee.

• James Beard, chief financial officer for the city of Atlanta.

• Yvonne Soler McKinley, executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba. She also is a former city manager of Doral and South Miami.

• Alex Rey, city manager of Miami Lakes.

• Thomas Mattis, city manager of Colonial Heights,Va., a city of about 17,000 people south of Richmond.

• Pieter Bockweg, executive director of the city of Miami’s Omni, Midtown, and Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency. He was one of the names added after other candidates dropped out.

• Guillermo Olmedillo, owner of land use/planning and zoning consulting firm Olmedillo X 5. He previously worked for Miami-Dade County and, more recently, coordinated political redistricting for Miami-Dade after the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

• Donald Elliott, change facilitator (a high-level personnel position) with Novant Health in Charllotte, N.C.

Search committee members said they expect candidates to bring imagination and vision for the city on top of being able to effectively oversee employees and keep the city’s finances in order. Member Manny Kadre said he wants to see candidates that can tackle the city’s day-to-operations from all angles.

“We want someone with fiscal, managerial and people skills,” he said.