The Biggest Decision This Town Council Will Make

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On Monday, in what is sure to be a marathon meeting day, this Fort Myers Beach Town Council will make the biggest decision it has to make so far. Perhaps the biggest decision it will ever make. A decision that will have wide-ranging implications for the future of the island. On Monday, this Town Council will decide who will lead its government through the monumental rebuild from Hurricane Ian.

Nearly 90 applications were submitted for the job of Fort Myers Beach Town Manager. Keith Wilkins and Chris Holly have been on a 6-month contract to run the town since former Town Manager Roger Hernstadt quit following the election of Karen Woodson and John King.

From those applications, Wilkins, Holly and their staff chose five finalists for the Town Council to consider. The five became four when one of the finalists accepted another job. The resumes of the final four were made public only two days ago (see next story for the resumes).

A change in leadership could happen quickly despite the limited amount of time this council and the public has had to dig deep into the background of the four finalists. Here’s how the process is laid out on the town’s Monday agenda.

The public will have a chance to meet and mingle with the final four candidates between 8AM and 9AM Monday before the Town Council meeting at 9AM. The council will then conduct 15-minute public interviews with the final four candidates. That will be followed up with a public comment session so the council can hear feedback on the candidates from the residents. The council will then have an open discussion about the candidates. After public comment and the council’s open discussion, the council will rank the final four. Town Clerk Amy Baker will then tally the votes, announce the scores, and contract negotiations will immediately begin with the top candidate.

During their discussions the council could also decide that none of the four candidates deserve the job and the search should continue. Holly and Wilkins would go back to the pile of resumes submitted and consider any others that might come in. The job is listed as open until filled.

The elephant in the room is Keith Wilkins. A majority of this Town Council want Wilkins to stay on the job. Along with Chris Holly, Wilkins has put Fort Myers Beach on solid ground to rebuild. He’s put a new team of employees in place, he has the experience to take a community through a disaster and he consistently communicates with the residents. As of today Wilkins has not thrown his hat into the ring for the job.

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