By: Sharon Aron Baron
The search for Parkland’s next city manager just got a bit more complicated.
Since narrowing the eight semifinalists down to a pool of four finalists at the last city commission meeting, one candidate, Jacob Ellis, dropped out after he received another job offer, and two others have thrown their names in the ring.
Nancy Morando, interim city manager for the city of Parkland and Kevin Knutson, a strategic planner, have submitted their applications although they didn’t express interest until after the recruiter narrowed candidates to semifinalists. This was possible because the commission had not closed the application process.
The search began after last January when Bob Payton resigned. Payton, who was hired in June 2017, told the commission a year ago he didn’t want to be there. Several members of the commission agreed and accepted his resignation.
Some of the requirements the city stipulated for their next city manager were they must hold a bachelor’s degree in public administration, business administration, or a related field, and have least five to seven years of municipal management experience as a senior-level government leader. Experience as a city manager or assistant manager, as well as a master’s degree, would be a plus.
Kevin Knutson is currently a strategic planner with Envisio Solutions, where he is the vice president of planning and performance solutions. Parkland currently contracts with Envisio. Knutson added his name after the commission meeting on October 2.
Knutson holds a bachelor of arts in English and a master’s degree in creative writing from Florida International University. He currently lives in British Columbia, Canada, and his experience includes time as an assistant city manager for the city of Reno NV, from 2011-2012 and director of communications and marketing for the City of Coral Springs from 2005-2008.
Knutson said it had been his personal and professional goal for the past 30 years to help improve the services that local governments provide to residents through prudent financial planning, strategic planning, process improvement, performance management, and communications.
“I have worked with and for over 130 cities, towns, counties, and districts, with populations ranging from 3,000 to over 3,000,000. One of my favorites has been the City of Parkland.”
Nancy Morando is the interim city manager for Parkland and the director of finance. She submitted her resume on October 8 after finalists had been narrowed down. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in finance.
A Parkland resident, Morando, said she is very interested in becoming Parkland’s next city manager because having a stable, reliable, and dedicated leader is important to the success of our organization and city.
“During the past three years, I have led the city as the interim city manager and assistant city manager. There have been many challenges and opportunities during this timeframe. We worked closely with Lennar, our largest developer, to resolve numerous issues and concerns that residents have had. We dealt with mold and drainage issues that were resolved. We experienced a 100-year storm, causing significant drainage issues in the western portion of the City. We worked with North Springs Improvement District to purchase a pump that would alleviate future flooding. Hurricane Irma decided to visit our city, creating $1.6 million in debris removal expense.”
Other Finalists include: Andrew Berns, Samuel May, with Erdal Donmez
Currently, the town administrator — or city manager— of Southwest Ranches, Andrew Berns, has held that position since 2012. Before this, he was the community and economics affairs officer, public and economic affairs officer, and economic development officer with the city of Tamarac.
Currently residing in Delray Beach, Berns holds a bachelor’s of science from Kean University and a master’s in public administration from FAU.
Berns believes he would be a perfect fit for Parkland based upon his experience in Southwest Ranches and his approach to building relationships.
Both communities share many similarities, he said. The residents are highly educated, affluent, and committed to a high quality of life, maintaining green spaces, and being good environmental stewards. The Ranches also has an active equestrian community, and all residents rightfully expect outstanding customer service and accessibility from city staff.
Berns said in Southwest Ranches, he continuously interacts with residents and has built positive working relationships with all homeowner’s association presidents.
“They all have my cell phone number, and it is not unusual for me to have conversations in the evenings or on weekends,” he said.
He believes this serves the community in two ways: the associations have a voice and know they can contact him whenever they have the need. This also allows him to understand the needs and concerns of residents better, thereby allowing the administration to be appropriately responsive to community needs.
“From a personal standpoint, I genuinely enjoy these interactions. It makes me a better manager and helps me connect to the community.”
Recently retired from his position as city manager of Margate, May first began working for the city in 1988 as an engineering inspector, and in 2017, he became city manager.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Barry University as well as a master’s of arts in administrative studies.
May said Parkland is a premier city of Broward County and feels if he is selected as the next city manager, it will be the pinnacle of his career.
He also believes Parkland has some challenges: One is an issue relating to drainage within the more rural subdivisions. The other is the unique opportunity to determine the future use of undeveloped land within the city limits. While the city commission and the citizens of Parkland will establish goals for the future use of the undeveloped land, and the city manager will then be tasked with accomplishing those goals — as well as tasked with resolving the drainage issues.
He believes he is a perfect fit in Parkland due to his extensive background in municipal government in both operations and administration, his knowledge of intergovernmental agencies, his ability to work well with all types of personalities, and his skills in leading a management team to proactively accomplish goals that are for the greater good of the city and its citizens.
May served as the city manager of a city comprised of police, fire, utilities (including water, sewer, and stormwater), building, development services, parks and recreation, and public works departments. Before this, he served as the public works director, public works superintendent, and as an engineering inspector.
“Throughout my career, I have managed many contracts and contractors and successfully resolved drainage issues. I also worked closely with a city commission and implemented the goals set by them,” he said.
The city manager of Coral Springs from 2000-2017, Donmez, was the director in the Department of Real Estate and Economic Development for the city of Miami.
He holds a bachelor of science in economics from FSU and his master’s of science in economics from Auburn University.
Donmez said his 17 years of progressive city management experience in a high performing organization with proven results in Northwest Broward County supports his confidence that he is ready to serve as the next city manager of Parkland, where he will challenge himself to maintain and improve the legacy of the current leadership.
Donmez said he is a seasoned professional with the highest ethical standards and impeccable reputation and has first-hand knowledge and understanding of FEMA disaster preparedness and disaster recovery policies and procedures.
“For 17 years, I have worked side-by-side with local elected officials and with other legislative bodies and officials at every level on many issues.”
During the October 16 city commission meeting, they will discuss dates when they will be meeting with all the candidates.