Key Biscayne’s Village Council unanimously selected five finalists for the job of village manager on Tuesday, narrowing down from a group of 52 people that applied from every corner of the country. The five — all from South Florida — have either municipal government or military experience.
And several members of the group have another thing in common: they have ties to the City of Miami, a municipal neighbor that Key Biscayne has tussled with in the past, including fights about the Boat Show and the Ultra Music Festival on Virginia Key.
- Steven Williamson appears to be the frontrunner. He is Miami’s former director of capital improvement and managed the city’s $400 million resiliency bond and projects on Virginia Key. Williamson got six votes to advance to the next round, with a vote from every council member except Ignacio Segurola.
- Chris Rose was the city’s budget director. Before that, he was Miami-Dade County’s assistant director of public works. He was supported by Mayor Mike Davey, and Council Members Allison McCormick and Luis Lauredo
- Joseph Fernandez, the former head of Broward County’s Fire-Rescue department, worked for more than a decade for the City of Miami in fire and emergency management roles. He was supported by Council Member Ed London as well as Davey and McCormick.
Making the second-strongest showing of initial support is Brian Lynch, who held a series of posts in the philanthropic and communications fields after 15 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. His resume says he “was often labeled as a visionary” and he cites experience in disaster planning with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Lynch had support from four members of Council: Davey, London, McCormick and Brett Moss.
Also making the cut is former Palm Beach Town Manager Thomas Bradford, the only finalist who has served as a chief municipal manager. He is well known to the Council because of his experience in launching a utility undergrounding project on the ritzy barrier island. Bradford met several times with Key Biscayne’s undergrounding task force. He was supported by Segurola, Moss and London.
“At this point, I feel we can’t go wrong,” said Moss. “We have five stellar applicants.”
In selecting the five – all white males – the Village Council passed over many candidates from out of state who had chief executive experience, sometimes from larger communities. Just four women applied, and only one female — former City Manager Jane Shang, from Deltona, Fla. — received any support. Shang got a lone vote from Council Member Frank Caplan.
London said he would have been ready to pick a manager Tuesday, describing the quality of the applicants as “tremendous.”
Police Chief Charles Press is serving as interim manager after the resignation of Andrea Agha, who was earning $205,000 annually. Press earlier urged the Council to be thorough and cautious in picking what he said would be the most important manager hire the council will ever make, citing voter approval of a $100 million bond question in the November election.
Next in the process is a series of interviews and evaluations, including psychological aptitude tests, that the Council wants completed before narrowing down the list. The finalists are expected to appear for video or in-person interviews with the full Council in March. The session is expected to be available for the public to watch.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.