The Biggest Decision This Town Council Will Make


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.


  1. This is too rushed for comfort. Often executive positions are vetted by head hunters who will find appropriate candidates that are currently employed. Who ever is hired, they should have disaster recovery experience. I vote keep Keith for anther 6 months and find the right person. The last thing we need is another failed manager from another town like RH.

  2. I agree with the majority – keep looking.
    None of the four have held past positions long.
    One was asked to leave his position. One, at his current position for less than a year, is not getting work completed on time. (We Do Not need a feet dragger)
    This is a pivotal time for FMB. Take the time to find the right fit.

  3. After reading the four resumes, none seem like a good fit. Take the time, do further research on the other candidates or perhaps look into the private sector as well. FMB deserves better! Shouldn’t party affiliations be on the record?

  4. As a former FMB resident, I’m really hoping you’ll ask Keith to stay on longer. The idea of having him groom someone for this important job makes all the sense in the world!

  5. Has anyone reached out to the previous director of public works? I believe she is still in the area and helped FMB during Irma! I always had my questions answered when she was there.

  6. In NYC we had a man elected Mayor. -Gulliani.He turned our city around.To a crime free wonderful place to live .afterwards we elected unqualified Mayors.Who have basically destroyed our city Ft.Myers Beach now more than ever needs strong and experienced leaders Please take the time to choose that person.

  7. Just my 2 cents, none of the candidates seem good. None of them left their last job in great standing. I can’t believe we can’t find a suburb town manager!

  8. This is a hard No to these 4 …
    Move along nothing but the same old ….same old.
    See if Terry Steward will come back.
    Or John Gucciardo…
    2 of the best leaders

  9. A worthy plan would be to hire Keith, have him do the job throughout the critically important next few years, identify a potential homegrown, local candidate and have Keith groom him/her until they can take over for Keith. If there is such a person.

  10. Patience is a virtue. I realize these are very challenging times after Ian but don’t rush into anything that might bring regrets.

  11. I agree with Leah. I am dumbfounded that these four are the best of 80. Most have no solid backgrounds. Also working in small/ unknown towns. Pathetic! Start over or draft Keith! (If he is willing)

  12. Keith and Chris are the way to go. Extend their contracts. None of these applicants appear to be a great fit —let alone a good fit for FMB. MHO.

  13. I truly agree that there surely has to be a trained, professional individual who in the area with knowledge of our ocean community and island needs. We are looking at millions of dollars in real estate that needs to be protected from the carpetbaggers. What are we paying for this position and where are we posting this opportunity? I would like to believe that we could attract an oceanography engineer with financial management skills. I know I am dreaming, but am I?

  14. Someone needs to convince Keith to stay on the job. Your Candidate’s do sound to good for the Island. Most haven’t stuck around any place for very long. That’s a RED flag

  15. A wise person once told me. “If in doubt, say no”. That simple advice has led me through many life- changing decisions.

  16. Praying Keith will take this position. He and his wife would be such a wonderful addition to our community. None of these 4 candidates was a good fit for this job. I agree with Eric.

  17. Choose wisely it’s is the future on how FMB will end up. I had a doctor I worked for once tell me never assume anything in life gather you information first then proceed forward.

  18. I am not comfortable with any of these many manager job changes. Had hoped a Fort Myers Beach resident who loves , lives, and has a heart on this island would desire this position…If you are out there please step forward. We need you 🌴

  19. Before any decision is made, PLEASE USE COMMON SENSE. Some of these candidates have a questionable past. THERE IS A REASON FOR THIS. Don’t let a fox into the henhouse!! Wait for a quality candidate…..someone with a great resume!! They’re out there!!


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