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Search firm submits its five finalists

By Staff | Mar 3, 2012

After a detailed vetting process, the candidates for a new permanent city manager have been narrowed to a list of five, with one alternate.

The candidates selected by the city’s search firm come from as far away as Colorado, with some having experience in Florida, although only one is a current Florida resident. Their experiences run the gamut from being city managers elsewhere, to the private sector, to the military.

The executive search firm, Colin Baenziger & Associates, conducted the vetting process. The resumes of the candidates can by viewed online at www.capecoral.net

The search-firm selected candidates are:

n Ed Green, Rifle, Colo. County manager in Garfield County for from 1998-present

n Barbara Lipscomb, Casselberry, Fla. Current city manager there since 2007 and former assistant city manager in Gainesville.

n Mark Needham, Versaille, Ky. Special assistant to the governor since 2008 who was also Garrison Commander at Fort Knox during 26-year military career.

n Leonard Sossaman, Concord, N.C. former city manager from 1985-98, who has recently worked in private sector.

n John Szerlag, Troy, Mich. City manager of Troy since 2009 and from 1999-2006, former city manager in Sunny Island Beach, Fla. From 2006-09

n Buford “Randy” Witt (alternate), Miami, former interim city manager, South Miami 2010, former Brigadier General with U.S. Air Force.

Colin Baenziger, who headed the search, said the city got all good candidates.

“We had a pretty good pool. Not as deep as you would like, but all the people are strong,” Baenziger said. “I put the people in who I thought were the best fit for the city.”

The list now goes to the Cape Coral City Council, which can accept, reject or modify it.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick said she is pleased with what she’s seen.

“We could have a winner. There are a couple that I like from what I’ve seen,” Erbrick said. “I’m holding judgment until after the interview process.”

The candidates should arrive Wednesday, March 21, for the two-day process, which will start with a tour of the city on Thursday, March 22, followed by a public reception that evening at the Cape Coral Yacht Club from 5 p.m. to 6:30.

“This will be an opportunity for the candidates to interact with the citizens,” Erbrick said. “Their interaction will be the telling point.”

On Friday, March 23, the candidates will meet with individual council members for one-on-one interviews starting at 9 a.m., followed by a special meeting of the City Council at 4 p.m., where the candidates will be interviewed as a group which will be open to the public.

Another special meeting will be held on Monday, March 26, at 2 p.m. to pick the new city manager.

From there, the new city manager could be on the job anywhere from almost immediately to as long as 90 days, according to Erbrick, depending on the length of time it takes for the candidate to transition in.

Erbrick said she hopes the candidate can be in quickly to help with the budget process.

But whoever it is, the council is confident that person will be able to do the job.

“We’ve got excellent choices. I look forward to meeting them,” Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said. “I’m remorseful we didn’t heed Mayor Sullivan’s recommendation to use an outside company the last time we searched for a city manager. This time we got it right.”