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Palm Coast Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 5 months ago

Klufas to propose hiring firm for Palm Coast city manager search

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It would be worth waiting a few extra months to ensure that the city gets the best candidates, Councilman Nick Klufas said.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast City Councilman Nick Klufas will propose during an upcoming City Council meeting that Palm Coast hire an outside search firm to find more candidates for the city manager position, Klufas said during an interview on Dec. 3.

"It’s really vital that we get the right person, and I’m willing to expand the scope of our search to see if we can find that potential candidate that, perhaps, we weren’t able to tap with our internal search."

 

— NICK KLUFAS, city councilman

The council had previously considered hiring a search firm, but decided instead to have city staff handle the search.

The staff-led process yielded 86 resumes from potential applicants, but only a handful had experience as city or county managers in communities as large as Palm Coast.

Mayor David Alfin, noting the applicant pools' relative lack of experience, had mentioned in previous press interviews that it may be worth hiring a search firm if the council can't agree on a candidate. 

Klufas said he was concerned that the council's initial process of ranking candidates hadn't shown that any had the support of all five City Council members.

Each council member had listed their top five picks during a Nov. 17 meeting, and only one candidate — Jim Manfre, the former Flagler County sheriff – received three votes, while five others received two; none received four or five council members' support.

Nick Klufas. Image courtesy of the city of Palm Coast

The council had decided to shortlist the six candidates who'd received two or more votes of support from council members.

"I was a little distressed that we didn’t have any candidate that received five nominations from the council," Klufas said. "That was the really eye-popping moment for me, when I realized that we couldn’t even agree upon who we thought would be qualified for this position."

Klufas was one of the councilmen who'd listed Manfre. Three of his other picks — Anthony Carson, Shawn Henessee and Patrick Marsh — were selected by at least one other council member. 

"The fact that Jim Manfre had the most total votes was almost an item of concern for me, because he has history in our community that potentially brings baggage along with it," Klufas said. "I think that this next city manager really needs to come in with a fresh slate and be able to take the reins without coming from a place of people casting judgement."

A search firm, he said, could supplement the existing pool of applicants — potentially with some candidates that would stand out as having experience particularly relevant for the Palm Coast position, and therefore earn the support of all council members.

"It's far more prudent, and in my opinion a totally valid trade-off, to wait a few more months and to go out and have a city manager search firm come in and provide a second pool of candidates to see if there are additional candidates that are willing to apply," Klufas said. "I don't believe that we have tapped the best potential city manager candidates, and I'm hopeful that we can have an external search firm come in and provide a more qualified pool of candidates."

 

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