Five finalists on tap for city manager

By Kile Brewer
Posted 8/8/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Green Cove Springs City Council has picked five finalists in its search for a new city manager.

The finalists include Tad Davis from Arlington, Va., Colin Groff who has …

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Five finalists on tap for city manager


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Green Cove Springs City Council has picked five finalists in its search for a new city manager.

The finalists include Tad Davis from Arlington, Va., Colin Groff who has an address in Green Cove Springs, but currently serves as assistant city manager in Boynton Beach, Fla., Lewis Kennedy from Americus, Ga. and Mike Renshaw from Winder, Ga. The only internal candidate up for consideration is current Assistant City Manager Mike Null.

After current city manager Danielle Judd announced early in 2018 that she would not be seeking another contract at the end of this year, the council elected to hire Texas-based executive search firm Strategic Government Resources to help fill the position.

At the council’s first update, they narrowed the field from 40 applicants, of the 64 total applicants that were prescreened by SGR, to 12 semi-finalists, with three additional candidates being chosen as alternates. Two of the original 12 withdrew their applications before going forward in the process and were replaced with the top scoring alternates.

Prior to the Aug. 1 meeting, the 12 semi-finalists were issued a questionnaire and required to submit a video interview back to SGR. The firm compiled the candidates’ answers into a briefing book, which also included more information and a full biography on each of the semi-finalists, and, along with the videos, handed that information over to members of the council.

Council members all seemed to agree that they were left with a good group of candidates, with several having the things they were looking for including experience in various cities of similar size to Green Cove Springs, specifically experience in Florida cities, and the willingness of any candidate to live within the city.

The one outlier in the finalists was Null whose experience is limited to Green Cove Springs, which members of the council agreed could be both good and bad.

“When we started this process I said, ‘What are my top three requirements?’ and one of them was that [the candidate] would have experience somewhere else,” said Council Member Mitch Timberlake. “When I look at Renshaw, Kennedy and Davis they all have that.”

Timberlake continued his comments.

“What they lack is an intimate knowledge of Green Cove, our systems, our people, having relationships locally. I also feel very strongly for us as a city to allow for upward mobility.”

Members of the council agreed to include Null in the finalists as his knowledge of the city and all the current issues the council deals with would give him a slight edge in that aspect of the process, even though other candidates might have more experience as a city manager and all the leadership and duties that come with that role.

“In a lot of organizations there’s always this upward mobility until you get to this position, this position is hard,” said Council Member Van Royal. “When you go from assistant manager of anything to manager, when you go from vice president to president, you’re calling things.”

Royal said that as an assistant you can always pass blame upward but being at the top is a much different job.

The selected finalists will be subjected to very thorough media searches and background checks before the interviews and the council should know each candidate very well before even meeting them in person for the first time.

In the next step of the process, all five finalists will be brought to the city for 90-minute in-person interviews and a meet-and-greet with the community prior to the start of the two-day interview process. Times for the meet-and-greet and interviews are yet to be announced but the dates are set for August 30 and 31.


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