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City commission moves forward with 5 city manager candidates

BY JENNIFER CABRERA / SEPTEMBER 16, 2019

The Gainesville City Commission has selected 5 candidates for in-person interviews, which will begin on September 25.

Because of an hour-and-a-half discussion about whether the city should file an amicus brief against SB 168, the “Sanctuary Cities” bill, Commissioner Harvey Ward had to leave and was not able to vote on the matter, but he gave his short list before leaving.

The commissioners mainly had the same candidates on their list, but Commissioner Gail Johnson continued to push for the inclusion of Reginald Edwards, who she had added to the list at the previous meeting. The consultant said at the time that Edwards did not rise to the top of the list of candidates, and only Johnson and Commissioner Simmons voted to include him on the list for in-person interviews. Even when it was clear that Edwards had only received 2 votes, Johnson continued to try to add him to the short list.

The commission discussed postponing the in-person interviews because Johnson said she felt that the process was rushed, but they decided that it was important to stick with the dates that had been given to the candidates. Commissioner Hayes-Santos also said it would be about 6 weeks before there would be another opportunity that would work for all of the commissioners.

Commissioner Hayes-Santos stated, and several commissioners agreed, that if the process did not result in someone they felt would be a great city manager, they would reopen the search.

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The semifinalist candidates were previously described here. Today the commission voted to invite Harry Black (former City Manager of Cincinnati, OH), Lee Feldman (former City Manager of Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Anne Fritz (CFO of St. Petersburg, FL), Janice Jackson (former Administrator of Augusta, GA), and Howard Lazarus (City Administrator of Ann Arbor, MI) for in-person interviews. The vote was 5-1, with Johnson dissenting and Ward absent.

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