Meet Marco's maybe managers: Four finalists to be interviewed Thursday
Marco Island may have a new city manager soon, nine months after former city manager Roger Hernstadt unexpectedly resigned. After an unsuccessful initial search resulted in just one final candidate, City Council's second search has produced four city manager finalists: Daniel Alfonso, David Fraser, William Malinen and Lee Niblock.
The four candidates received an identical list of questions about themselves, their experience and their plans for Marco Island should they become the next city manager, and each was asked to submit a photo of themselves.
Daniel Alfonso was born and raised in Camaguey, Cuba and moved to Hialeah, Fla., when he was 11 years old. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a member of the 2/4 Calvary Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He visited Marco Island for the first time shortly after returning home.
“I have visited Marco Island several times on vacation, the first time in late 1991,” he said. “I had just come back from serving in the Gulf War and my wife and I rented a place in Naples. From there we visited Marco Island and the surroundings.”
Alfonso then attended Florida International University where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Business Management/International Business and a Master of Science in Finance.
He’s been the city manager of Miami since March 2014, but is looking to leave ahead of an anticipated regime change.
"There will be a change in the city mayor next month," he said. "It is the right thing to do as the new mayor should have the ability to name a manager."
Alfonso said he's interested in Marco Island because it offers new and exciting challenges.
"Marco Island presents opportunities and challenges that are different from what I have been resolving in Miami for the six plus years," he said. "I have skills and aptitudes that will serve Marco Island well, so I'm interested in going there as a professional."
Should he become Marco’s next city manager, Alfonso said he plans on learning about the island’s biggest problems from the people who know it best: locals. However, he said a few issues stuck out to him during his research.
“There are challenges presented by pressure to grow, managing that growth and maintaining the feel and look of the community in the face of land use and development code changes,” he said. “Additionally, like in many municipal areas, keeping positive working relationships with county government is important; however, as a donor community, Marco Island can demand services commensurate with its contribution, and that is a valid discussion that the city and county need to have.”
As city manager Alfonso’s top three priorities will be engaging with and becoming a part of the community; getting to know the various stakeholders and the city’s needs; and identifying the key issues facing the community and building a consensus on resolving them.
Prior to his tenure as Miami's city manager, Alfonso was the city's assistant city manager/chief financial officer and the director of the office of management and budget. Before that he served as Miami-Dade County’s assistant director of the general services administration.
Alfonso and his wife, Claudia, have been married for 30 years. Together they have a 25-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter.
David Fraser was unavailable to answer specific questions, but submitted a brief biography.
He 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's also served as city administrator of Beloit, Kan., city manager of Buchanan, Mich. and town administrator of Milliken, Colo.
“In addition to having managed four cities in four different time zones, I have a decade of experience overseeing the operations of an association,” he wrote in his cover letter. “I have a sound understanding of management practices accompanied with strong personal and professional ethics.”
Fraser wrote that he places an emphasis on building “high performance, customer-friendly” organizations.
“This approach requires establishing an organizational culture with common goals and objectives that are generally understood and accepted,” he wrote. “It is based on encouraging individuals to think for themselves and to act within approved parameters. Any organization is only as good as its people and I believe that we do our members a service when we are proactive in developing our employees.”
He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.
William Malinen was the city administrator of Branson, Mo., from 2013 to 2017. He's also served as city manager of Roseville, Minn., city administrator of Lynnwood, Wash. and city manager of Fife, Wash. 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.
He declined to be interviewed "out of respect for the recruitment process that the City Council has undertaken."
Lee Niblock was born and raised in Maquoketa, Iowa. He attended the University of Wisconsin, Platteville where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Geography/Resource Planning. He also earned a Master of Arts in Recreation and Public Administration from the University of Iowa and a Doctorate in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University.
Niblock first visited Marco Island nearly 30 years ago, and has returned periodically ever since.
“I first visited Marco Island in 1991 to attend the FRPA State Conference meeting,” he said. “Subsequent to that visit my wife, daughter and I have enjoyed Marco Island on other leisure occasions and additionally I attended a business meeting here.”
Niblock was the county manager of Alachua County, Fla. from November 2014 to September of this year when the board voted to dismiss him.
“My departure was by a majority vote of the Board. Immediately prior to that action, I spoke against a Substitute Motion (that would have passed) to retain my services as County Manager," he said. "I truly sensed it was the right time to go and it was an amicable departure."
Niblock wants to become Marco Island’s new city manager because the position would allow him to utilize the skills he’s accumulated over the years.
“I feel Marco Island presents that perfect opportunity for me to literally use my complete career experience in one location,” he said. “It’s as if I’ve trained my whole life for this opportunity and I am passionate about earning this great position.”
He said serving as Marco Island’s city manager would be “the highest honor” and a career capstone rather than a stepping stone.
“I am confident I am the one candidate that is aggressively pursuing only the Marco Island City Manager position and I have no other active applications in circulation or anticipated,” he said. “I am singularly focused on earning the Marco Island city manager position.”
Should he become Marco’s next city manager, Niblock said his top three priorities will be addressing parking issues, especially in District 1, systematically addressing periodic flooding and embarking on an unwavering strategy and defined course of action to improve employee morale.
“I would quickly meet with every staff member in small groups or individually as needed and meet immediately and regularly with the seven elected policy makers in the city," he said. "I also positively look forward to meeting with the fine citizens of Marco Island."
And he hopes to do so while also enjoying the beauty of the island.
“I’m looking forward to taking sunset walks on one of the best beaches in the country,” he said. “Perhaps those walks could be with groups of citizens? The City Manager Walk & Talk?”
Niblock and his wife, Connie, have one daughter and a 3-month-old grandchild.
There will be a meet and greet with the finalists at 5:30 p.m,, Nov. 1, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. Council will select the new city manager in a special-called meeting at 6 p.m., Nov. 2.