by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel City Council selected five candidates last week in the search for a City Manager following the retirement of Judie Zimomra on Sept. 29 after 20 years in the position. Since then, two of the candidates – Stacey Almond and Yvonne Kimball – have withdrawn.
A public meet and greet with the three remaining finalist — Dana Souza, Jeffrey Durbin and Keith Williams — will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28 at the Bailey Homestead Pavilion, 1300 Periwinkle Way. A second public meeting with the three candidates will be at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29 in MacKenzie Hall.
Council will make its final selection for city manager in a special meeting at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 in MacKenzie Hall at City Hall, 800 Dunlop Rd.
Last week council voted 5-0 on the selection of Community Services Director Keith Williams, who has been with the city for the past nine years. He remains a finalist despite concerns outlined in a memorandum prepared by the search firm Colin Baenziger & Associates.
The memo, based on 32 interviews of city staff and citizens and interviews with Williams, concluded he needs more time and should continue serving in his current role. “We feel he would benefit from working under the tutelage of a second, highly competent city manager to improve the areas where he is weak,” the memo stated.
Councilmen Mike Miller and John Henshaw expressed concern that Williams was treated unfairly by the search firm. Vice Mayor Richard Johnson said he supported the idea of hiring a search firm as long as all candidates were treated the same.
“I am not convinced that was the case and it concerns me a great deal,” said Johnson.
Council voted 4-1 for the selection of Jeffrey Durbin, who served as an interim city manager for the small mountain resort town of Frisco, Col., from April to August. He previously served as town manager in Fraser, Col., for 16 years. He says he is proud to be an ICMA Credentialed Manager with more than 25 years of experience in local government.
“My reputation as a leader who believes in the spirit of servant leadership, the ICMA Code of Ethics, professionalism and relationships is well known among Colorado mountain communities,” Durban said. “However, I’m at a point in my career where I’m seeking new challenges.”
Councilmen Henshaw and Scott Crater, Vice Mayor Johnson and Mayor Holly Smith voted for Durbin as a finalist.
Naples Interim City Manager Dana Souza is among the finalists with three council votes. Souza wrote in his cover letter that after reading a “great deal” of the Sanibel Plan, he found the “intent to preserve the island’s natural environment as the foundational element of its comprehensive plan and land development code to be inspiring.”
“While I have visited Sanibel many times and have enjoyed its small-town feel and natural beauty, I have not fully appreciated the efforts of Sanibel’s founders and leaders have undertaken to preserve this sanctuary community until reading the Sanibel Plan,” he said.
Souza has 36 years of service in local governments and gained broad experience by touching all phases of government operations and services. He has held positions from Director of Parks and Recreation to Interim City Manager for Marco Island in 2008 and Naples, where he was hired five years ago as Community Services Director.
Mayor Holly Smith, Vice Mayor Richard Johnson and Councilman Scott Crater voted for Souza as a finalist.