Marco City Council selects four city manager finalists

Lisa Conley
Marco Eagle

The Marco Island City Council has selected four city manager finalists: Daniel Alfonso, David Fraser, William Malinen and Lee Niblock.

W. D. Higginbotham, Jr. of The Mercer Group, Inc. presents the list of city manager semi-finalists to the Marco Island City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.

Council met Wednesday night to discuss the list of seven semi-finalists. This is the second time the city has gone through the search process since former city manager Roger Hernstadt resigned under pressure in February.

The first search resulted in only two finalists, one of whom later withdrew, thereby leaving Joshua Gruber of Beaufort, S.C. as the sole city manager candidate. Council ultimately rejected Gruber 4-3.

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W.D. Higginbotham, Jr. of The Mercer Group, Inc. – the firm the councilors selected to conduct the search for a new city manager, and the firm that tapped Marco Island’s original, and longest-lasting, city manager Bill Moss for the position of Naples city manager in 2008 – was at the meeting to present the list of semi-finalists to the councilors.

Before he could do so, however, councilor Joe Batte recommended that council stop the search process and offer the position to interim city manager Gil Polanco.

Finance Director and Interim City Manager Gil Polanco.

"Never before have we seen an opportunity ... where an individual has proven himself regarding leadership under fire," Batte said, referring to Hurricane Irma.

Yet several councilors said they had reached out to Polanco and he indicated that he did not want the permanent position. Batte's motion to hire Polanco failed 3-4.

Higginbotham then gave descriptions of each candidate and at the end of his presentation the councilors had the opportunity to speak in favor of the candidates they liked; the councilors had previously agreed that they would not speak negatively about any of the candidates as they had done during the last finalist selection meeting.

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Chair Larry Honig praised the entire list of candidates, and said all of them were well suited for the job.

"It’s a strong list of experienced managers, any one of which would be an excellent manager for the city of Marco Island," he said.

The four finalists were chosen because they had received the greatest amount of praise.

Alfonso has been the city manager of Miami since March 2014. Prior to that he was the city's assistant city manager and chief financial operator. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Business Management/International Business and a Master of Science in Finance from Florida International University.

Fraser was the city manager of Boulder City, Nev. from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that he was the executive director of the Nevada League of Cities & Municipalities for 10 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.

Malinen was the city administrator of Branson, Mo. from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that he was the city manager of Roseville, Minn. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from St. Cloud State University and a Master of Arts in Public Administration from Mankato State University.

Niblock was the county manager of Alachua County, Fla. from November 2014 to September of this year. Prior to that he was the county administrator of Marion County, Fla. He has a Bachelor of Science in Geography/Resource Planning from the University of Wisconsin, Platteville; a Master of Arts in Recreation and Public Administration from the University of Iowa; and a Doctorate in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

The other semi-finalists were Robin Gomez of Fairmont, W. Va., Bruce Johnson of Guthrie, Okla. and Lisa Powers-Severson of Bradley, Ill.

Council will select the new city manager in a special-called meeting at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 1, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.