New CM Espouses Citizen-Centric Government at Chamber Luncheon

photos by SC Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen

City Manager Dana Souza

Sanibel’s new City Manager Dana Souza and Mayor Holly Smith painted a picture of citizen involvement and government fiscal responsibility over lunch Wednesday, Dec. 8, to a crowd of business members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce.

“Your city is in excellent financial shape,” said Souza. “And you have excellent leadership that adheres to the Sanibel Plan. My vision for the city is your vision, the Sanibel vision, the Sanibel Plan.”

Souza was chosen out of 90-plus applicants from a search conducted by Colin Baenziger & Associates. He took office Nov. 16 on the heels of Judie Zimomra’s retirment after 20 years of service. He acknowledged he has big shoes to fill. “Well, I have pretty big feet,” he quipped.

Souza assured the crowd city hall will be citizen-centric and business-centric. He emphasized his accessibility to the community. “I want us to have excellent and friendly relationships,” he said. “From that foundation, we will get to where we can deal with issues when we disagree.”

Mayor Holly Smith addresses the crowd of Chamber business members.

Mayor Smith introduced Souza after outlining city council priorities in the coming months, including water quality, fiscal responsibility and capital projects – Center4Life, new police facility and Donax wastewater treatment facility – and local decision-making legislation.

Smith expressed the council’s concerns over homerule or local decision making. She said the city should be making decision about the unique Sanibel community and that privilege is becoming more and more diminished by state and federal governments.

“We need grassroots advocacy, and the chamber will be a part of that as well,” said Smith.

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Executive Director Ryan Orgera also addressed water quality and the efforts of Mayor Smith in his comments earlier in the meeting. “We should be proud we have the hardest working mayor in the country,” he said.

SCCF sponsored the luncheon, which was held at the Sanibel Community House. The next luncheon, sponsored by Adventures in Paradise, will be Jan. 12 at Sundial Beach Resort with Southwest Florida International Airport’s Executive Director Ben Siegel as the guest speaker.

For more information on the chamber or to register for a luncheon, visit or contact Landen Drake at 239-472-8255 or

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