TREASURE ISLAND — One of four men selected as finalists Tuesday may become the next manager of this city of almost 7,000 people.
The City Commission reviewed eight candidates offered by the Colin Baenziger & Associates consulting firm and picked the four for in-person interviews. They hope to make a final selection on Nov. 3.
The post became vacant in May following the resignation of Reid Silverboard, who had served as city manager for 10 years.
The city initially conducted a search with the help of the International City/County Management Association, but was unhappy with the results.
Out of 47 applicants, the ICMA recommended nine as finalists, but the commission could agree on only two.
Disappointed with the results of the ICMA search, the commission then decided to hire a headhunting firm at a cost of some $25,000.
Tuesday, Baenziger described all eight of his recommended candidates, picked from a pool of 59, as "extremely strong."
The four chosen by the commission include:
Garry Brumback, 60, Town Manager for Southington, Conn. (population 43,660) since 2011. Previously he was the city manager for Baytown, Texas (population 72,624) for four years, and assistant city manager in Clearwater (population 106,172) for seven years.
Michael Hein, 50, who most recently was assistant town manager for Longboat Key (population 7,326). Previously, he was director of emergency management and homeland security (six years) and deputy county administrator (two years) for Pima County, Ariz. (population 1.01 million). He also was city manager for Tucson, Ariz. (population 543,910), for four years.
Gary La Venia, 63, city manager for Fruitland Park (population 7,200). Previously, he was township manager for Maple Shade, N.J. (population 19,079), for three years and township manager for Riverside, N.J. (population 7,911), for 18 years.
Lee Niblock, 64, who most recently was county manager for three years in Alachua County (population 263,500). Previously, he was county administrator for Marion County for five years, and worked there in other positions for another six years.
The commission picked Brumback and La Venia unanimously, while the votes for Hein and Niblock were split.
Mayor Bob Minning and Commissioners Deborah Toth and Ralph Kennedy picked Hein and all but Toth picked Niblock.
The four men will tour city hall and meet with department heads on Nov. 2. The public will also be able to meet the candidates that evening at a public reception.
The entire commission will interview the candidates during a public special meeting beginning at 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 3.
Each candidate will be privately interviewed by individual commissioners in the afternoon.
The commission will then meet again publicly at 4:45 p.m. to make a final selection.
Here is more detail on the candidates' backgrounds, as summarized by Baenziger:
• Brumback "believes in setting high standards and expectations and then holding employees accountable to do their very best to achieve the common goals." Achievements include attracting millions in private investment in downtown retail and restaurant projects. Brumback has a bachelor's degree in Economics from Virginia Military Institute and a master's in International Relations from Boston University. He is an ICMA Credentialed Manager.
• Hein "takes the time to explain the vision and mission after carefully listening to individuals and synthesizing input." In Tucson, he consolidated library services that resulted in better service, reduced costs and enhanced employee morale. ... He has a bachelor's degree in public administration and policy analytics from the University of Wisconsin and a master's of public administration from the University of Arizona.
• La Venia "employs a team approach to management. ... This methodology allows for different team members to bring their knowledge to the table while carrying out various tasks." Baenziger described his work in Fruitland Park as a "major achievement." La Venia has a bachelor's in finance and budget and a master's of public policy from Rutgers University.
• Niblock "adjusts his management style to each situation." He reduced the Alachua County tax rate while increasing service delivery and providing more funding for public safety and road maintenance and provided three years of employee raises. Niblock has a bachelor's in geography/resource planning from the University of Wisconsin, a master's in recreation and public administration from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate in public administration from Nova Southeastern University. He is an ICMA Credentialed Manager.