Residents pooling funds for manager candidate’s trip
Some concerned citizens are pooling their funds to pay for all of Charles Oliver’s travel expenses, ensuring the city manager hopeful is present for his 4 p.m. interview on Thursday.
Oliver dropped out of the race late last week after the Cape Coral City Council decided not to pay for travel expenses. Oliver is traveling from Arizona for the interview.
“It was a surprise to me,” Oliver said on the phone from his home in Arizona. “I was contacted out of the blue … and made a gracious offer.”
Former Financial Advisory Committee Chairman Steve Riggs is a part of the group that helped to collect the travel funds.
Riggs said the group, while not formally linked, consists of local business leaders, young families, retired executives and neighborhood groups, among others.
Though not an official organization, the group recently met to discuss its thoughts about the city manager search.
“There isn’t a group, it’s just a coalition of interested citizens that have come together,” Riggs added.
It wasn’t long after council made its decision Friday, Riggs said, that the group agreed to cover travel expenses.
“Within a few hours we had hotel rooms donated, that came from individuals,” Riggs said. “Other people started offering cash to this endeavor.”
Riggs said the offer was also made to Duncan Ballantyne, but he had accepted another job offer and dropped out of the race. Ballantyne was traveling from the east coast of Florida.
It’s unknown whether the offer was made to Peter Sands, who is traveling from Alabama. Sands said on Friday he was coming for his interview despite his travel expenses not being covered by council.
Oliver said he was going to be arriving in Cape Coral Wednesday.
Oliver has an extensive background in government management. He also served as an assistant to the county administrator in Lee County. Most recently he was city manager of Surprise, Ariz., overseeing 850 employees and a budget of approximately $300 million.
Oliver and his wife, Valorie, lived in Cape Coral previously for 10 years. They still have family in the area.
Oliver said he’s looking forward to the challenges if appointed as city manager.
“I think it’s a wonderful community and opportunity,” Oliver said. “There are some challenges … but I’m confidant of my qualifications and abilities.”