Miami Beach city manager applicants interviewed publicly before final vote

Martin Vassolo
·2 min read

Ahead of a final vote next week, the six finalists for Miami Beach’s city manager position appeared before the City Commission on Thursday to be interviewed publicly for the job for the first time.

The candidates, who include three senior city officials, made pitches for why they should lead City Hall and answered questions about sea level rise, work experience and leadership style.

Commissioners did not vote during the meeting, nor did they open it up to public comment. Most had already interviewed each candidate privately beforehand, but Thursday’s meeting marked the first time the candidates appeared together at a public forum.

The commission will select the new city manager at a meeting next Wednesday. Whoever is chosen will run a government facing fallout from a rowdy spring break and in the process of preparing a budget for next year as the tourism-dependent city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miami Beach has a city manager form of government in which the manager runs the day-to-day operations of the city and executes policies approved by the commission. The manager will oversee 2,200 full-time employees and an operating budget that was most recently set at $627 million.

The internal candidates — Eric Carpenter, an assistant city manager; Alina Tejeda Hudak, also an assistant city manager; and John Woodruff, the city’s chief financial officer — attempted to separate themselves from the external candidates Thursday by emphasizing their familiarity with the inner workings of the city.

The outside candidates — Jay Boodheshwar, deputy town manager for the town of Palm Beach; Anthony Figliola, executive vice president at Empire Government Strategies; and Michael Reese, former director of local government affairs for Ice Miller Whiteboard — argued that the city needed a fresh perspective to solve long-established challenges. They also committed to living in Miami Beach full-time if selected, something none of the internal candidates have said they would do.

During their 30-minute interview sessions, each candidate aimed to create daylight between themselves and the competition, while expressing their excitement for the chance to take the reins of the city administration.

Next Wednesday, the commission will hold three rounds of voting, to narrow down the six finalists to three and then to two before choosing the new manager.

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