Daytona Beach city manager candidates discuss budget and management, business, and neighborhood improvement and public safety with residents at a forum in Midtown.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Despite heavy rain, residents ventured out to the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center on March 20 to hear from candidates vying to be the next city manager of Daytona Beach.
Making their case for the job were Deric C. Feacher, city manager of Haines City; Terrence R. Moore, city manager of College Park, Georgia; and Terry K. Suggs, Putnam County administrator.
The candidates talked about their backgrounds, qualifications, experiences and why they are the best for the job.
They fielded questions from residents on diversity, distribution of funds and resources, economics, youth, infrastructure, conservation, and more.
Residents met with the candidates in different rooms at the center simultaneously. The sessions were on budget and management; business; and neighborhood improvement and public safety.
The event was also broadcast and live streamed including in a Zoom room.
“We conducted the forum in this manner to practice social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Susan Cerbone, Daytona Beach communications manager.
“My city is still important to me,” said Sarah Jackson. “This event was insightful. They gave a lot of good information. One of them will eventually manage the city. I think they’re all great candidates. I really like Feacher,’’ she said.
Luke McCoy Sr. stated, “This was an excellent opportunity for the community and businesses to view the candidates. It was a good format. We won’t hire the city manager, but we can let the city commission know our thoughts.”
“Feacher is a Bethune-Cookman alum and Omega like myself. I like him for the job, but Moore may be more experienced,’’ McCoy, added, referring to his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi.
Suggs on growth
There were five finalists for the position. Caryn Gardner-Young withdrew a day before the forum and Thomas J. Hutka dropped out weeks earlier.
At the forum, Suggs was asked about affordable housing and business development.
“When I was in Palatka, we had housing problems. We focused on infrastructure, education, crime and more to address it,” said Suggs.
“In Palatka, we were able to attract businesses by showing what we had to offer. We want economic growth, but we want smart economic growth.”
Suggs also spoke of retaining home-grown talent.
“I’m big on hiring and promoting our best and brightest to keep them here instead of letting them go elsewhere,” he shared.
Moore on strategic plan
Moore was asked about what would be his three to five-year strategic plan for the city.
“I’ve done this in all my previous positions. Once I learned I was considered for this position, I’ve been interested in identifying one that encompasses all aspect of the city,” said Moore.
CRAs are one form, but its more comprehensive. Our strategic priorities are part of the budget process. Strategic outcomes are identified with respect to the annual budget process,’’ he added.
Feacher on diversity
Feacher was asked about dealing with diversity, including the Black community.
“I have the ability to tap into individual’s heart no matter their background. My role is to serve the community and the people in it to the best of my ability,” he said.
“I will do what is just and what is right. I try to bring everyone into the fold including those who look the people in the neighborhoods they serve,’’ he noted.
Feacher also was about infrastructure in regard to flooding. Flooding is an issue in many areas, including Midtown.
“I know what is here and what happens from my time in college at Bethune-Cookman. When choosing these projects, there are often problems underground that we don’t know about,” he related.
“We must also bring in other resources to fund these projects. CRA funds alone won’t do it,’’ he added.
The next step
Slavin Management Consultants, an executive search firm in Norcross, Georgia was hired by the city to find the candidates.
The firm has helped 53 Florida governments find managers, including Ormond Beach and Volusia County.
The positions opened when Jim Chisholm decided to retire after 16 years.
The city commission had planned one-on-one meetings with the candidates this week.
A decision is expected within a few weeks and the next city manager could be seated by June.
For more information on the finalists, visit www.codb.us/CityManagerSearch.