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Council considers options for filling city manager job

By Staff | Nov 17, 2009

The overriding sentiment among the Cape Coral City Council was one of patience Monday night, but there was little else reached in the way of a consensus while discussing the prospect of a new city manager.
The person could be a local candidate, the result of a nationwide search, a “fixer” or the man currently occupying the seat, interim City Manager Carl Schwing.
All were ideas thrown around, but none were committed to, leaving any major decisions to wait until, in the very least, the city has paid off departed City Manager Terry Stewart’s six-month severance package.
“Mr. Stewart is with us for the next six months because of his severance package. Making a decision now is not fiscally responsible,” said Councilmember Marty McClain. “We’ve got a very competent city manager filling in at this point that has done this before.”
Council will also likely have to wade through developing its own criteria for the position before knowing which way to proceed.
Not only was there a question of whether a local or national candidate would serve the city best, but also whether a traditional city manager or a fixer, or “change agent,” would move the city in the right direction.
Councilmember Pete Brandt favored the latter. He said the city should be reorganized and run like a business, and that the person to do that is likely already living locally.
“I’m looking for someone from a multimillion dollar organization,” Brandt said. “I’m talking about someone who has major corporate experience, and I believe we can find him right here.”
Mayor John Sullivan said he wants a private sector, local candidate, but he also wants to keep the city’s options open.
“I think we need a national search, though I prefer we hire locally,” Sullivan said.
Schwing received praises from Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz for stepping into the job.
As the former assistant city manager, he has been juggling several hats since Stewart stepped down last week.
Schwing said he has already made adjustments to the staff to assist with the workload, and that he plans to use his time in the position wisely.
“I do not plan to sit still and make sure the boat continues to float. I want to make sure it not only floats but moves forward,” Schwing said.