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The search for a new city manager: Shores hoping end is in sight


The Town of Indian River Shores may have a new town manager by the end of the month, depending upon the results of in-depth background checks and leisurely face-to-face interviews with three finalists.

No, this is not the same slate of three men who were in the running last month. One, former Melbourne city manager Mike McNees, is still in contention, but the other two are late entries.

The council decided not to pursue the other two candidates in the previous triad after flying one of them in from Missouri and the other from Illinois for 30-minute interviews with each of the five council members, plus an afternoon meet and greet that was only attended by a handful of residents.

After news reports circulated saying the Shores was re-opening the search, retired Sebastian City Manager Joe Griffin and newly unemployed Palm Bay City Manager Gregg Lynk both contacted town officials expressing interest in the job.

Griffin, who worked in positions of increasing management responsibility with Sebastian for 12 years, retired in May to relocate but then decided he wanted to move back to Florida.

Shores Mayor Tom Slater said Griffin told him he retired, moved and then realized that, number one, he was not ready to retire, and number two, he and his wife missed Florida way too much and desperately wanted to return.

Slater described Griffin’s reputation and resume as impeccable, noting his service to the U.S. Marine Corps and his career as a commercial pilot before joining the City of Sebastian’s team, originally as airport director.

Lynk was ousted on Nov. 21 from his job managing the sprawling South Brevard city of Palm Bay right after a newly-seated city council was sworn in.

Last Friday morning Lynk was present at Shores town hall for a special call meeting about the town manager search.

After being asked to approach the public podium to introduce himself, Lynk told the council that Palm Bay leadership shifted significantly after the last election from a Republican-controlled board and that a new, 26-year-old councilman, in his first official duty, moved to make a change in city managers.

Last week’s meeting to take another look at McNees, plus to discuss the Griffin and Lynk possibilities, was called after McNees appealed directly to Slater with a letter both criticizing the town’s selection process as akin to “speed dating” and pleading for another shot at impressing the council.

“Having spent the two days I did inside Town Hall, meeting each of you and the Town’s employees and residents, I’ve already gained a sense of immediate opportunities to improve the already high quality of the Indian River Shores organization.

“It would be my honor to have an opportunity to do so,” wrote McNees, who lives in Grant only 30 minutes away.

“My message is simple – before you re-sign with ‘,’ or its government equivalent, please be aware that I remain available for a second date, giving you an opportunity to further evaluate ... be that in a group interview setting or through whatever method you might devise,” McNees wrote.  

Based upon that letter, and his own impressions of McNees during extra time he spent with him, Councilman Sam Carroll tried to make a motion to offer the position to McNees. But there was already a motion on the table by Vice Mayor Bob Auwaerter to move forward with another round of in-person interviews with all three men.

Once that motion succeeded on a 3-2 vote, Carroll’s motion, had it been approved, would have conflicted with that action.

There was some citizen support and tepid council support for a proposal made by Auwaerter last month to allow Town Manager Robbie Stabe to remain in his job, and to promote Town Treasurer Heather Christmas as Stabe’s deputy, but not enough traction to push that forward.

Stabe resigned last May due to stress-related health issues, but then in December asked to stay on another three to five years after the town’s initial searches yielded no successful candidate to replace him.

Council members expect to be able to vote to hire a town manager at the Jan. 24 council meeting.