Vero Beach City Council short-lists 3 city manager finalists

VERO BEACH – The Vero Beach City Council has voted to invite three city manager contenders to the city for face-to-face interviews next week.  Not on the short list is Interim City Manager Monte Falls.

Traveling at city expense, Kevin Sullivan, Kenneth Griffin and James O’Connor will arrive in town Monday for one-on-one meetings with individual council members, followed by formal interviews before the whole council on Tuesday.

Thursday’s special council meeting included a review of the city manager selection process to date by David Johnson. Johnson is president of HR Dynamics, the Vero Beach staffing firm hired by the city on March 3 to find a new top administrator.

Johnson said he had in consultation with the counsel created a job “spec” document outlining the credentials a candidate should have and defining expectations for the position, which was vacated in October when former city manager Jim Gabbard retired. Posted on and other job search websites, the want ad attracted 54 applications.

“I determine an application as someone submitting a resume and saying they are interested,” Johnson said. “We had to screen down those 54, which was what most of the month of March was about. I interviewed about 20 of the 54 on the telephone.”

The screening process resulted in HR Dynamics picking five semifinalists whose resumes were presented to the council on April 3. Over the next three weeks, each individual councilmember interviewed each semifinalist, mostly via Skype internet video conference.

He said the candidates had been, “pretty thoroughly vetted” and that he believed “any one of the five could do the job.”

Johnson recommended the council to pick two or three from the group of five to invite for in-person interviews and suggested the council make its selection based on three main criteria: financial management skills, change management skills and the ability to serve as a city government spokesman.

After tabulating the members’ selections, City Clerk Tammy Vock determined that Sullivan scored highest, while Griffin and O’Connor tied.

The Vero Beach City Council approved inviting the three for interviews. The estimated cost of bringing the candidates in is about $2,200.

Johnson said he was not sure whether a new city manager would be chosen next Tuesday or if the process will continue through additional steps.

“I’d only be guessing if I tried to say when the process will wrap up,” he said.

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