Wanted: Diverse pool of candidates for city manager

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BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm is set to retire at the end of the year.

Chisholm, 72, spent 16 years running the city’s daily operations. He took over in August 2004.

In September, the city hired Slavin Management Consultants, an executive search firm in Norcross, Georgia, to find Chisholm’s replacement.

The firm has helped 53 Florida governments find managers, including in Ormond Beach and Volusia County.

No list of candidates has emerged, but the job is posted on the firm’s website. Efforts to reach the company for comment by the Daytona Times’ Wednesday deadline were unsuccessful.

Diverse pool wanted

There are hopes that a diverse group of candidates will emerge. With a majority Black and female commission, Black mayor and Black police chief, there are hopes for a Black city manager.

City leadership is making no promises.

“We want to make sure that we have diverse candidates, not all White males. We want a diverse pool. It’s a possibility but we have to see the candidates. We haven’t had a Black,” said Mayor Derrick Henry.

“We haven’t had a female either. Our main priority is to have a diverse pool and the best fit for our community.”

For years, the Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP chapter has called on the city to hire and promote Blacks and other minorities.

“We want someone that can do the job but is also fair, trustworthy, respectful, ethical, approachable, and has the utmost integrity. We absolutely want Black and minority candidates considered,” said local NAACP President Cynthia Slater.

“Whoever it is must listen and communicate with the mayor, commission and community. We hope the next city manager closes the gap in minority hiring and promotions within the city.”

Petition circulating

There is a petition circulating with the hopes of garnering 6,000 signatures. The petition asks that the city hire a Black city manager.

“We are asking for a Black person to be hired. We are looking for an opportunity to talk with the candidates. We want to make sure it’s not a Tiger Woods, Charles Barkley or O.J. Simpson,” Shawn Collins told the Daytona Times.

“This is not an organizational effort. We all have power if we use it. The problem too often is our people wait for a group or someone to lead. You want something, do it yourself,’’ said Collins, who also is the city’s Midtown Redevelopment Board chair.

Ken Strickland is a member of the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In the past, he worked with the local chapter. As a resident, he’s interested in city affairs.

Strickland stated, “I am fine with a Black, a woman or minority. We need someone with the best interest of the citizens of the city not a few rich. It’s funny how that a list of candidates is yet to surface.”

Push for woman

Steve Miller, a former Daytona Beach Zone 5 commissioner, went a step further.

“I am looking forward to the city hiring its next city manager. I am supportive of the mayor and commission. The city has never had a Black or woman as city manager. I would like to see not only a Black person but a Black woman. I think a woman would show more equity to the entire city.”

The city and Chisholm have both been criticized for the hiring and firing power Chisholm has had over the years.

“I think when you’ve been in that position for as long as he has that you inherit a lot of power. Chisholm served my two predecessors. The next person won’t have his contract. I think he took more authority during (former Mayor Glenn) Ritchey’s term. I think he had more in my first term than second term,” Henry explained.

“I think a lot of people like to blame him for things, but I think the commission has done more in the past few years, especially during my tenure,’’ he noted.

Lack of top Blacks

The city says measures have been taken to restore more power to the commissioners.

“We have done a charter review, but it doesn’t have to come to that. The commission can mandate matters,” Henry said.

“Our commission has focused on affordable housing. We have some things in the works. Most of what is implemented comes from the commission.”

The city also has been called out for its lack of Blacks in leadership positions.

Blacks in top leadership positions are Police Chief Jakari Young, Leisure Services Director Keith Willis and Betty Goodman, assistant city manager.

“It is true. We have asked for more diversity, but it hasn’t happened like we’d like. That’s one aspect of the community. The community has to say what are the city’s priorities,” admitted Henry.

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