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Palm Coast Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 2 years ago

Flagler Beach chooses Larry Newsom, interim Escambia County administrator, as new city manager

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If contract negotiations with Newsom are successful, he will replace outgoing City Manager Bruce Campbell Jan. 1.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Flagler Beach has selected Larry Newsom, an interim county administrator in Escambia County, to replace Bruce Campbell as Flagler Beach city manager.

The City Commission selected Newsom in a unanimous vote in a special meeting after its regular meeting Nov. 12.

Before the vote, commissioners praised both Newsom and the other shortlisted candidate, former Fernandina Beach city manager Joseph Gerrity.

"We’re going to be blessed with whichever one we take," City Commissioner Joy McGrew said. "It’s going to be be win-win."

"I think they’re both outstanding candidates, and either one of them would serve the city admirably," Commissioner Steve Settle said. "They both are more than I ever expected that we would get."

Commissioner Joy McGrew said she would like to bring both men back for a second interview. 

But commissioners Marshall Shupe and Kim Carney indicated they were leaning toward Newsom, and Shupe said he didn't see the need for another interview.

"I personally think that it doesn't hurt to have someone with a  traffic background and a parking background," like Newsom, Shupe said.  "And I just believe that at this point in time, it wouldn't hurt us at all to have somebody that knows somebody in Tallahassee. And maybe that sounds wrong to some people ... but I think at the same time, we’re looking for grants, were looking for political clout. And I know that that maybe sounds like you’re trying to use somebody; I’m not, I’m trying to use somebody’s expertise."

Just two residents spoke during the meeting's public comment period. 

"I think maybe we need a little freshening up around here," resident Rick Belhumeur said. "I have a concern that maybe somebody from a smaller town might just come in and just kind of go with the flow and ask, ‘Well, how do you do things around here?’, whereas the other one might come in with his own ideas and say, ‘This is how we’re going to do it.' ... I like Mr. Newsom."

Another resident, Paul Eik, said he like both men's qualifications, but preferred Gerrity. From his observation of both candidates, Eik said, it seemed that Gerrity "was a  person that actually came from a community that more resembled our own here. And that he seemed to be the candidate that fit the city better."

The commission had debated what to do about the seat for months, repeatedly enticing Campbell to stay on after he'd said he wanted to resign. But at the Nov. 12 meeting, commissioners spoke for less than 12 minutes before Settle motioned to select Newsom, and each commissioner voted in his favor. Only about 30 people had applied for the position. 

The pay range for the position has been advertised at $70,000-$90,000, but Newsom's salary won't be determined until the city finishes contract negotiations with him and the City Commission approves the contract.

If contract negotiations are successful, Newsom will start work Jan. 1.

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