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Marco Island City Manager David Harden has taken a leave of absence following the sudden death of one of his children over the weekend.

Council Chairperson Erik Brechnitz announced the news and designation of Finance Director Gil Polanco as interim manager in an email to City Council Monday morning.

"Counselors, it is with deep regret that I inform you that David Harden's oldest son passed away unexpectedly over the weekend," Brechnitz wrote. "I do not have any of the details, but I do know that this came as a great shock to David and his family. I have encouraged him to take all of the time he needs to deal with this unfortunate and tragic occurrence."

More: There's a new sheriff in town: Harden takes the reins of Marco Island city government

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Harden took the reins of the Marco Island city government in early January with the specific intention of serving in an interim capacity and to calm what had been a turbulent last couple of years in the city manager's office.

After a long tenure as the city of Delray Beach's manager, Harden had taken a few short-term assignments over the last couple of  years.

Harden replaced Polanco, who was thrust into the city manager's position after City Council fired Lee Niblock in March 2018. Niblock's tenure lasted only a little more than three months after a battery investigation determined that he had committed multiple International City and County Management Association ethics violations.

Harden's tenure with the city was expected to end soon with the city's hiring of former Melbourne City Manager Mike McNees, effective July 1.

With Marco Island in the midst of hiring a new police chief to replace Al Schettino, it's unknown whether that will have any impact on the process.

The city had originally scheduled interviews and assessments for the police chief finalists to take place June 6-7.

Those finalists include:

  • Captain John Crane-Baker, Delray Beach Police Department
  • Deputy Chief Tracy Frazzano, Montclair (N.J.) Police Department
  • Chief Anthony Giaimo, Florida Southwestern College Police Department
  • Deputy Chief Stephen McCosker, Ocoee Police Department
  • Assistant Chief Terrence Pierce, Gainesville Police Department

After learning of the news Monday morning, Florida Police Chiefs Association Executive Director Amy Mercer said nothing had been changed at this time. 

In his email the council, Brechnitz wrote that he had reached out to McNees to make sure he was available for interviews Thursday and Friday.

Although the hiring of the next police chief falls under the control of Harden, his decision is expected to be made in conjunction with McNees.

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