Coral Gables

Hollywood city manager interested in Coral Gables post

Coral Gables has one official candidate for city manager.

Hollywood City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark — who ran the Gables’ economic development programs for 20 years — submitted her résumé Tuesday, and gave the city permission to conduct a background check, City Attorney Craig Leen said.

If she passes the background check, she will appear before a special meeting of the City Commission.

Last week, recruiter Bud Park brought Swanson-Rivenbark to meet the mayor and commissioners individually. The city hired Park last month to conduct the search for a new city manager to replace Pat Salerno, who resigned in April after holding the job for five years.

Park agreed to a $25,000 fee for a 60-day search. He is to submit at least three candidates, and if one of them gets the job, he will receive an additional $10,000.

Park would not comment on why Swanson-Rivenbark is a top contender.

“I’m not finished with my work yet,” Park said, adding that he has had conversations with about 100 possible candidates. “I may invite some others to submit their material.”

Swanson-Rivenbark did not return telephone calls from the Miami Herald on Monday and Tuesday.

Swanson-Rivenbark left Coral Gables in 2009 to become assistant city manager of Hollywood. In 2012, she was named city manager after two stints as interim manager.

Swanson-Rivenbark emerged from a longer list of potential candidates, including former Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess, former Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Chip Iglesias and Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Director Bill Johnson. All were approached by Park but showed no interest in the job.

The city has gone through an intricate process in hiring a new manager. After Salerno resigned, the city hired Colin Baenziger & Associates, a Daytona Beach Shores firm, to conduct a search, paying it $30,000.

Based on Baenziger’s slate of candidates, the city appointed as manager Jim Beard, Atlanta’s chief financial officer for four years. A day after he was appointed, Beard withdrew after details surfaced in court records about a bankruptcy, a suspended driver’s license and a paternity suit. Baenziger apologized to the city, saying the firm forgot to ask applicants to disclose past lawsuits.

Commissioner Vince Lago told the Herald on Tuesday that he is very pleased with Swanson-Rivenbark, but that he would not mind talking to other candidates as well.

“She is an extremely qualified individual,” Lago said. “We as a city would benefit from her. We recently went through a very embarrassing experience with the last city manager search.”

Mayor Jim Cason said Swanson-Rivenbark continued to live in the Gables when she started working for Hollywood, and that her being a Coral Gables resident would be a plus.

As of Tuesday, Park had submitted no other candidates to the commission.

“We’re doing well,” Park said. “Let’s just hold our breath and get through the next few days and see what spills out.”

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