By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - In less than 30 minutes, the Fort Piece City Commission whittled down possible candidates for the city manager's position from 10 to five.
The recruiting firm, Colin Baenziger and Associates, that was hired by the city to screen potential applicants, filtered through 88 potential candidates, including current interim city manager, Nicholas Mimms.
From that pool, the firm selected the 10 most qualified to bring back to the commission.
At the commission's special meeting on Aug. 16, each commissioner received a portfolio that gave detailed information on each candidate, as well as a ballot to rank them individually.
"This is a very in-depth study on people," said Commissioner Thomas Perona about the information given to the council. "Every time I go through this, I learn something different every time. It's a very complete study on 10 individuals."
"It's good to see some really good candidates in there," Mayor Bob Benton said.
After the commissioners recorded their individual preferences, the results were tallied, and the top five selections were announced.
The top five selected are: Steven Alexander, who was the Cutler Bay town manager from 2006-12; Robert Bradshaw, the current city manager of Port Aransas, Texas; Thaddeus Cohen, who was the Pensacola assistant city manager and community redevelopment agency director; Steve Fitzgibbons, who was the city manager for Port Arthur, Texas; and Mr. Mimms.
The next step is for all five candidates to come to Fort Pierce on Aug. 30 and 31.
On Aug. 30, a meet-and-greet is scheduled so the public can meet all the potential candidates. The reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theater at the Sunrise Theatre, 117 South 2nd St. in Fort Pierce.
"It's essentially a social gathering so the commission can get to know the candidates in all phases," said Shaun Baenziger, an associate from the recruiting firm.
"A lot of times, some of the greatest problems that happen with the city manager are personality differences, or friction with the commission. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the personality as a whole, not just the official personality, but how they're going to represent your city in social situations."
"It's very informal," Mayor Benton said.
On Aug. 31, each commissioner will be able to interview the candidates privately, and then public interviews will take place with the commissioners at 1 p.m. in the city commission chambers.
A final selection will be made at the Sept. 4 commission meeting.