By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - In a months-long process that began with 88 applicants, the Fort Pierce City Commission took slightly more than an hour to select Robert Bradshaw in a 3-2 vote to be the next city manager.
The discussion, and ultimate decision on the issue, took place at the commission's Sept. 4 meeting.
Mayor Robert Benton and Commissioners Edward Becht and Thomas Perona voted for Mr. Bradshaw, while Commissioners Rufus Alexander and Reginald Sessions voted for the interim city manager Nick Mimms, who is the city's public works director and has worked for the city for more than 15 years.
The overall vote was first broken down into two separate voting areas. The first round of voting gave the commission the ability to narrow the four candidates to two. The second and final vote came after a lengthy discussion.
Before the voting even began by the commission, Commissioner Alexander made a motion to table the vote until after the November election. That election will decide if Commissioner Sessions keeps his seat, and a new mayor will be selected for the city.
"(The selection of the city manager) should be left for the individuals that are going to be working with the new city manager," he said.
The motion died when no one seconded it.
After the commissioners discussed how they were going to vote, the top two picks were Mr. Bradshaw with four votes, and Mr. Mimms with five.
After the initial decision was made, discussing the two candidates began. While the entire commission spoke highly of Mr. Mimms, some voiced their reservations.
"I want to commend Mr. Mimms who made it to this point. It speaks largely to your accomplishments and your future accomplishments," Commissioner Perona said to Mr. Mimms.
"I also spoke to some of the vendors that dealt with Mr. Bradshaw when he worked with St. Lucie County, and I heard tales of great management skills, honesty and integrity. These are the things I've been looking for, and both candidates are beaming with this. But I keep going to the experience part of this, and with Mr. Bradshaw's experience, I was impressed."
"(Mr. Mimms) has the capability to do what is needed for this city," Commissioner Alexander said. "My concerns are that we don't know anything about Mr. Bradshaw except what was presented to us."
"Mr. Mimms measures up against a national talent pool, and that's what I thought we would see," Commissioner Becht said. "I am hopeful that (Mr. Mimms) will take this in the right light, and move on with formal education and gain experience in what he has shown he has been able to do."
"Initially, from the interviews and their qualifications, it appeared that both individuals were qualified," Commissioner Sessions said. "But we need to take into consideration that Mr. Mimms is an individual that is home-grown, we know what we're getting. I believe that his character is very important."
"The biggest concern I've heard is that we're afraid to set (Mr. Mimms) up for failure. I just feel with the economy the way it is," Mayor Benton said. "It takes a long time to know Fort Pierce; it's a very unique community. With Mr. Bradshaw, he knows Fort Pierce, and he's willing to work with everyone here. To me, the experience that Mr. Bradshaw brings right now is something that I think will help the city get through its financial issues and maybe bring some creative things to the plate."
The city attorney's office will begin contract negotiations with Mr. Bradshaw. If a contract cannot be reached with Mr. Bradshaw, Mr. Mimms will enter into negotiations for the position.
The issue will come up again at the Sept. 10 meeting, when the commission will discuss contract details.