By: Sharon Aron Baron
The candidates for Parkland’s next city manager have been whittled down to the top four.
The top 51 candidates made it into a pool of eight semifinalists through a recruiting effort by Slavin Management Consultants out of Norcross, Georgia. After reviewing resumes and questionnaires submitted by each, city commission members then ranked their top picks. In order of points, they were: Andrew Berns, Samuel May, with Erdal Donmez and Jacob Ellis tying for third.
Each holds a wealth of experience and were asked why they believed they would be a perfect fit to become the next city manager for Parkland.
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, become 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.”
Since 2017, Ellis has been the deputy town manager for the Town of Gilbert. Before this, he was the assistant to the town manager in 2015.
Currently residing in Gilbert, Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master’s of public administration from Cleveland State University and a Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Ellis believes every community deserves a manager whose passion, values, skills, and experience are well suited to championing those causes that the community embraces and prioritizes, and believes Parkland’s values and priorities are an excellent fit with his own.
“I’ve spent years working to ensure the small-town charm of a community is preserved during times of rapid growth. I’ve worked in communities with highly engaged residents and thrive in an environment of strong collaboration between residents and their local government.
Passionate about preserving the quality of life, he sees a great fit with a community which prides itself on being a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family.
“Parkland is the kind of community where I feel I could make a positive difference and is a natural next step in my career.”
For 20 years Ellis said he has worked to gain the skills, experience, education, and knowledge necessary to capably lead an organization and confidently tackle the challenges that come with managing a full-service city. For the last 14 years he has been fortunate to have had the benefit of great mentors, challenging assignments, and character-building experiences – most recently as deputy town manager in a highly engaged, well educated, carefully master-planned, family-oriented community which takes pride in its small-town feel and celebrates its quality of life as a clean, safe, vibrant, family-friendly place.
Bob Slavin with Slavin Consultants told the commission the next step would be background checks which would include, criminal, educational and contacting references. This should take ten days, and they would meet the candidates tentatively scheduled for October 25 and 26.
During this time, commission members are free to contact candidates to learn more about them.