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Stewart still in running for Lee County manager

By Staff | Aug 19, 2009

Cape Coral City Manager Terry Stewart is included in a list of 12 remaining candidates for the open Lee County manager position.
Colin Baenziger & Associates, the firm conducting the search for the county, submitted the list of candidates in the “semifinal” round to county commissioners Monday.
Cape Coral City Council members said they do not mind Stewart’s candidacy for the job, even though a number of contentious issues exist between the city and the county.
“I still think people should have the chance to seek that opportunity when it comes up,” Mayor Jim Burch said.
On April 5, during discussions over whether to renew his contract, Stewart told council members he had no plans to seek another job. Council members voted 5-3 to extend his contract to February 2011.
In May, 16-year Lee County Manager Don Stilwell resigned under fire for sending sexually explicit e-mails from his work computer in violation of county policy.
Stewart has declined to speak publicly about his candidacy.
“This job came up very unexpectedly,” said Burch, who voted to extend Stewart’s contract in April.
Councilmember Bill Deile, who voted against Stewart’s contract extension and has been highly critical of the city manager, said he supports his candidacy.
“I don’t have a problem with it, other than the fact that he promised he wouldn’t do it. If he gets it, hey, I wish him well,” he said.
Stewart’s job hunt comes at a time when council members are frustrated with the county over the renewal of the city’s animal control services contract.
During a meeting Monday, council members said they feel backed into a corner in having to vote for a contract that is too costly.
Rather than approve the contract, council members extended the deadline for the vote 30 days.
Despite the fight with the county over the issue, council members said they are sure Stewart will do his best to serve the interests of the Cape.
“I absolutely have all the confidence in the world that Terry Stewart is going to do everything he can to serve Cape Coral until he’s no long with us,” Burch said.
“If I ever found out something different, I certainly would have something to say then,” he added.
County commissioners will narrow their search to five candidates Sept. 1 before making a final selection by Sept. 22.