Lakeland city commissioners are proceeding with plans to conduct a national search for the next city manager despite a move by Commissioner Bill Read to halt the process and promote Deputy City Manager Shawn Sherrouse to the position.

Commissioners met virtually this morning to select an executive search firm from among seven who submitted bids to help recruit a replacement for Tony Delgado, who announced nearly a month ago he will retire effective Sept. 26.


Early in the meeting, Read said he feels the time and money being spent to find a search firm will be a waste considering Sherrouse is a Lakeland resident and Polk native who is “perfect for the job … We know him, we know his style, we know his demeanor, and he knows each of us.”

Commissioner Phillip Walker agreed that Sherrouse should be promoted.

Other commissioners said that while they may land on Sherrouse ultimately as the best choice, they want to benefit from hearing the ideas of experienced candidates and investigating other options.

Commissioners mentioned previous national searches that they felt ended well.

Commissioner Scott Franklin said he had been part of the committee that recommended Gene Conrad be hired as Lakeland airport director a decade ago. While Conrad was younger than some of the “safer” candidates, “He brought things to the table that we didn’t know could be done.”

Commissioner Stephanie Madden said an internal candidate, Nicole Travis, rose to the top when the city conducted a national search in 2018 for director of community and economic development.

In the end, a majority of commissioners expressed a desire to continue the national search with the realization that Sherrouse or another internal candidate might become the best choice.

Commissioners narrowed the seven interested firms down to the top three and have scheduled a virtual meeting for 8:30 a.m. Friday to hear half-hour presentations from each.

In naming their top candidates, most commissioners said they were interested in firms that had done considerable work in Florida.

The finalists are:

Mayor Bill Mutz said that proposals from all three companies were similar in price so that the key issue for commissioners would be which firm they felt would surface the best candidates.

The seven proposals the city received ranged from $21,000 to $34,400, according to Assistant City Manager Emily Colón.

Video of today’s meeting:

City Commission Meeting 2020.06.24 from City of Lakeland on Vimeo.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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