NORTH PORT – North Port will only have two candidates to fill its vacant city manager job, after Caryn Gardner-Young dropped out of contention because she took another job closer to her current home on Florida’s east coast.
City Commissioner Debbie McDowell announced the development on her city Facebook page late Friday afternoon.
The decision means that two candidates, Alfred (Jerome) Fletcher, assistant chief administrative officer for Montgomery County, Maryland, and Matthew LeCerf, town manager for Johnstown, Colorado, remain in contention.
Gardner-Young, a planning supervisor at the Florida Department of Transportation District 4 office, said Monday that she is not yet revealing what position she accepted.
Doug Thomas, a senior vice president with SGR, the Texas-based firm that has handled the nationwide search for a new city manager, said in an email to the city that Gardner-Young chose the other position in part because she would not have to relocate.
Gardner-Young’s husband is disabled and her aging parents also live with her, “and the other opportunity eliminated the potential need to find new doctors for her husband and parents,” Thomas wrote.
The next step in the hiring process includes city commissioners finalizing the next batch of questions for Fletcher and LeCerf by Friday, so they can be included in a briefing book for the two remaining candidates.
They are scheduled to travel to North Port Aug. 8 and will tour the city and meet with city officials and commissioners Aug. 9 and 10.
A meet-and-greet with residents will be scheduled as part of the Aug. 9 session, while a public meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10. The start time for that is listed as 9 p.m. on the city web site but since the board is now choosing from two candidates, that may change.
Fletcher and Gardner-Young had both scored well with the five commissioners when they discussed the candidates at a public meeting July 19 and used a system similar to golf scoring, in which low tallies were best.
Fletcher received a 7 and Gardner-Young an 8, while LeCerf received a 10.
Fletcher is the assistant chief administrative officer with Montgomery County, Maryland, and is working on his accreditation as a city manager by the International City/County Management Association.
He also has experience as senior deputy director of the District of Columbia Government Department of Small & Local Business Development, where he also served as the chief of staff of the department of general services.
He also spent four years as an associate administrator for the federal General Services Administration, and has city government experience in Alexandria, Virginia, and Greensboro, North Carolina.
LeCerf is the town manager in Johnstown, Colorado, which has a population of roughly 17,500, a job he has held since October 2018.
LeCerf is an ICMA-credentialed manager – a key qualification for the City Commission in its candidate search.
At Johnstown, he secured a commitment from the town council to spend $140 million over three years to improve the town’s water and wastewater system. He also oversaw the city’s COVID-19 response and CARES Act fund disbursement.
Prior to Johnstown, he served as town manager of Frederick, Colorado, from Januart 2012 until September 2018. He was named city manager of the year by the Colorado City and County Management Association in 2017.
While there, he oversaw the 2013 rebuilding of flood-damaged infrastructure and helped recruit Agilent Technologies, a pharmaceutical company, which brought more than 150 jobs with an average wage of more than $77,000 to the community.
Prior to that, he served as city manager for the city of Maryville, Missouri, from April 2007 until December 2011 and as the assistant city manager from June 2006 until April 2007.
North Port parted ways with former city manager Peter Lear last year, following a lengthy investigation of allegations that he was having an affair with a subordinate.
Since then, Assistant City Manager Jason Yarborough has been interim city manager.
Yarborough, an ICMA credentialed manager, did not apply for the permanent city manager position.
Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.