A recent letter to the editor was not quite correct as it pertains to the candidates for City Council and, in particular, the candidate referred to initially as “Mr. X.” It is important for the citizens of Marco Island to know that there were no “back-door politics” or violations of Sunshine Laws involved, thus I want to clarify what occurred.
When the subject of selecting semi-finalists from our consultant, Bob Slavin, was introduced, a number of councilors, including myself, expressed that we were somewhat disappointed with his choices and were having difficulty with developing a list of candidates. I went through all the resumes and responses to questions provided by Mr. Slavin to the candidates a number of times; I also did some Internet searches that led to my sending Mr. Slavin some specific questions about some of the candidates.
In particular, I was surprised that one of the original candidates, Roger Hernstadt, who is the city manager in Marathon, who had been proposed by our prior consultant, Colin Baenziger, was not on the list. My surprise was due to the fact that while attending a Florida League of Cities meeting recently I spoke with a councilor from a neighboring community who mentioned to me that Mr. Hernstadt was still interested in the Marco position; subsequently, I contacted Mr. Slavin and indicated that I was going to be near Marathon and wanted to know if it was appropriate for me to contact Mr. Hernstadt, whom I’ve never met, to see if we could introduce ourselves to one another.
Mr. Slavin indicated that Mr. Hernstadt was concerned about confidentiality, and that unless he was a semi-finalist, he didn’t feel we should meet, at which point I advised Mr. Slavin I would drop the matter.
Because I felt that Mr. Hernstadt would make an outstanding candidate based on his credentials and experience, especially in a community similar to Marco, I called the prior consultant the morning of Dec. 2 to determine if there were any issues of whether or not I could ask Mr. Slavin to consider Mr. Hernstadt; Mr. Baenziger said there were no issues, even offered to help, but I left it at that until the meeting, at which time I asked Mr. Slavin if he had spoken to Mr. Hernstadt, to which he indicated he had, but again, repeated the concerns with confidentiality. In the interest of full disclosure I then restated how I had come to know that Mr. Hernstadt might still be interested and also that I had spoken with Mr. Baenziger and my initial proposal to try to meet Mr. Hernstadt. I believe it was Councilor Honig who commented something to the effect that since he knew where I had traveled to that he could figure out which candidate I was referring to and he thought it was a good idea as well to consider him and that is when we started to refer to him as “Mr. X” in order to protect his confidentiality. It’s my understanding that at the break our city attorney discussed the matter with individual councilors and, in open forum, expressed the opinion that I could use Mr. Hernstadt’s name, and council subsequently voted 7-0 to extend an invitation to Mr. Hernstadt to apply on the basis that he would be a semi-finalist.
I have never spoken to Mr. Hernstadt, however I did research him on the Internet, and also read the research provided by Colin Baenziger. Based on this information I still feel he is an outstanding candidate for the Marco position, however I want to once more emphasize that I certainly never have spoken to him, I have had no communication of any nature with him, and the “secrecy” behind not using his name was out of respect for his request for confidentiality; once someone submits their application, it becomes public record.
Marco Island City Council