City Council interviewed five city manager candidates on Saturday, July 30 and voted to hire Robin Hayes of Oveido.
The meeting was called to order at 8:10 a.m. to discuss the process by which the council would interview and then select a city manager candidate. Each candidate was given 30 minutes face time in a group council interview. The Council then was to rate the candidates and make a selection. Below is a synopsis and a few highlights of what was asked, along with video links to the complete candidate interviews of the top two contenders. Following that is the council deliberation and voting.
Mr. Slavin, of the recruiting firm Slavin Management, discussed process with the City Council, who then began their interviews with candidate Calvin Peck. Following Mr. Peck’s interview, council interviewed Robin Hayes, Steve Garman, Robert Francis and John Grotheer.
Mr. Calvin Peck
Mr. Crail began the questioning from council by asking Peck how he best thought the city’s assets would be properly maintained over time.
Mr. Peck responded that the city’s 10,000+ sets of eyes were a great way to keep an eye on those assets and that it is important to be approachable, listen and hear the praises and the complaints of the residents. He believes that though there should be processes to inspect and then prioritize those issues, but also it is important to listen to citizens. When problems are identified, they should be documented and the city needs to show residents constant progress in that regard.
In response to Ms. Rich’s question about what Mr. Peck considers to be his weaknesses and how he would improve upon them, Mr. Peck felt he had to have more information on a subject than anyone else and he wanted to inform everyone. But he learned to target his message to the audience to keep them informed.
Mr. Slaby asked about outsourcing of services. Peck responded that there was a need to first determine the existing cost of a given service. He said he would start by determining what it costs for a unit of production, then try to determine if that unit cost is reasonable. He noted that the State of Florida has done a lot of benchmarking work on municipal services and that it is not very expensive to become part of that pool. He would start by determining standards, writing proposals, obtaining 3-4 bids, along with the internal department submitting a bid.
Mr. Rowlett asked about Mr. Peck’s experience with Community Redevelopment Agencies.
Mr. Peck said he is familiar, but they are called Downtown Development Districts in North Carolina, where he is from. He explained he was familiar with the concept and had worked with that type of tax increment financing, which was tried in Carolina Beach but was unacceptable to property and business owners.
Mr. Girone asked how Mr. Peck explains to people who are against growth why controlled growth and economic development is desirable to a community.
Mr. Peck said first thing is to understand why they believe what they believe, the reasons they believe growth and economic development is a waste. If you understand their perspective and their history, you can see they may have valid points. Talk to people and show them the vision for the City Share with them what it is the City believes growth looks like, there is a way to do multiple facets of growth and econ development.
Mr. Rolfson asked among many documented qualities and experiences, what dynamic skills best qualified Peck to be Mount Dora’s City Manager.
Peck responded that his collaborative leadership style was, participatory, approachable, helpful to citizens, employees and offered leadership to the departments. He explained he would help them to understand there is going to be a consistency across the board on how he approaches problems and how he approaches people. Peck said he learned leadership in the Army, learned from great leaders and not as great leaders. He said that if employees believe leadership cares about them, then there is a common base from which to start. He said he is passionate about leadership and management. He believes every employee can be an ambassador if they understand the bigger picture that the manager articulates.
For the complete video of the explanation of the process and to see Mr. Peck’s interview watch here:
Next up was Robin Hayes’ interview:
Mr. Crail asked Ms. Hayes’ thoughts on how best to see that the city’s assets are properly maintained over time.
She said there should be a needs assessment as a good start for facilities, then understanding council, if maintenance has been maintained, then taking the needs assessment plan and applying it to the city’s needs based on how the plan falls out. The city should develop a 5-7 year plan on buildings for modifications and updates. Preventative maintenance is something that is important. She reiterated that a needs assessment is a good start, along with other plans needed from an engineering perspective with the involvement of a consultant to establish a baseline along with a visual of the buildings and inspections in the meantime.
Ms. Rich asked what made her that she could run the City of Mount Dora? Ms. Rich said she knows Ms. Hayes has been an interim city manager – when Ms. Rich posed the question, Ms. Hayes told Ms. Rich in the previous day’s one-on-one interviews that she has only been interim for periods of 1-2 weeks.
Ms. Hayes responded that she has experience working in a city management environment for 15 years, at director level. She said she has been presented with problems, tasks that need to be looked at and she resolved issues. She feels she is a decisive manager and that issues need to be looked at, resolved and then further changes may be needed to be made to resolve issues.
Mr. Slaby asked about her experience with outsourcing municipal services how she would decide which services should be in-house or outsourced.
She said that Florida statute requires looking at any type discipline not handled inside current government with professionals to look at from outside. She believes an independent report is best in most circumstances. If inefficiency is going to be reported, it is important that an outside entity must show such.
Mr. Rowlett asked about Ms. Hayes’ experience dealing with CRAs (Community Redevelopment Districts).
She said she has worked with CRAs in 3 cities – she elaborated on having had to revisit and re-establish some downtowns. She said she has worked with the attorney general and State of Florida for filing reports. She has been involved in the development of one CRA. She has worked with tax increment financing on that side of it, also.
Mr. Rolfson asked which among her obvious documented qualities and experiences, what dynamic skills she has that the best qualifies her for city manager?
Ms. Hayes said she believes she is a people person – and that that does help. She said she is an energetic, organized, decisive manager, enjoys the job, feels a passion for it, and feels she can see the big picture. She also said she believes there are always 2-3 or more options to anything, she likes to explore those options, and to listen to those folks who are the experts. She said she has a good feel for what is going on, is intuitive to departments and understands what is going on in departments from day to day. She pays attention, listens and participates.
Link to the complete interview with Ms. Hayes here:
After interviewing the remaining candidates, the council began deliberations.
They ranked the candidates, the goal being to objectively number their preferences on a blind ballot. Mr. Slavin suggested that form be completed first. 1 being best score and 5 being least preferred.
1) Calvin R Peck, Jr. 16 points
2) Robin R Hayes 18 points
3) Steve Garman 20 points
4) Robert G. Francis, Jr. 21 points
5) John H. Grotheer, Jr. 30 points
Discussion of the merits of the candidates then followed:
Mr. Rolfson began discussion. He said he didn’t’ have negatives but he did have concerns.
First, Peck’s observations were esoteric and broad but he was clearly in control as a manager; responsive; concise in answers; impressed immediately shook hands with everyone; very gracious; has experience; eye contact was good; very good answers regarding employees as ambassadors and personally believe that is a value; very good answer on roles and goals; potential for excellent relationship with council; very good listener; bright and confident; first task would be to hold a retreat with the council.
Second, he said Hayes was highly qualified in financials; aside from lack of experience in managing she had good qualities, was nicely conversant, good listener; she appeared to know CRA issues pretty well based upon experience; she appeared good on growth issues; some were vague in answers but she seemed to be fairly specific but drifted into vagueness; admitted that she needed more growth and ICMA education.
Rolfson felt Garman had good answers on replacement issues; was honest about impatience; good on zoning discussions; cited his experience in 5 states though that could also be perceived as a lot of movement; broad base of experience
He said he thought Francis has good concept of funding depreciation issues; very good technical management skills; verbalized very personal experiences as a plus; enthusiastic
He noted that Grotheer gave short answers; was also very good about shaking hands with council;
Mr. Rolfson was most impressed with Calvin Peck, feeling he was ready to go, had good management and military background and that he understands who is the commander in chief and how to treat employees.
Ms. Rich said in her interview with Ms. Hayes, she asked about the information about City Manager in the add. Her response was that she “aspires” to be a City Manager. Ms. Rich said when Ms. Hayes said she aspires to be a City Manager, she felt uncomfortable with that given where Mount Dora is and what is coming to Mount Dora in the future. Not enough leadership experience.
Mr. Slaby said Hayes was his number 1 choice. But, in the end of this, whoever the council chooses will also be his city manager.
Council voted by ballot between the top two candidates and the results were:
1) Hayes – 10
2) Peck – 11
Motion made by Ms. Tillett to offer the position of City Manager to Robin Hayes. Mr. Slaby seconded.
Link here to the entire deliberation discussion and final vote:
Meeting adjourned at approximately 1:20 pm