May has worked for the City of Margate for more than 28 years. Promoted to Public Works Director in 2009, the Coral Springs resident holds a Masters Degree in Administrative Studies and was named Public Works Director of the Year by the Florida Chapter of the American Public Works Association in 2013.
“I think we all feel like we have somebody in this room we want to be our city manager who is going to be a leader and who is going to take charge when we want something done,” Mayor, Tommy Ruzzano said Thursday during a special city commission meeting at City Hall. __________
The special meeting was called in response to City Manager, Doug Smith, tendering his 60-day resignation as per contract with the City. Margate's fourth City Manager in ten years, Smith was hired to the top spot in 2014after serving as Assistant City Manager (ACM) for a year under then Margate City Manager, Jerry Blough. Prior to arriving in Margate, Smith was Interim City Manager in Delray Beach.
Ruzzano suggested that fellow commissioners consider moving May up from Public Works Director to City Manager. He said he thought replacing Smith with someone from within the City was best, because the next five years in Margate will require a person familiar with the direction of the City.
While commissioners at the meeting were amenable to Ruzzano’s suggestion, all agreed that a decision on how to replace Smith required the attendance of all five elected officials. Commissioner, Joanne Simone, was absent from the meeting and asked in a correspondence that the matter be tabled. The City Manager job is one of three executive positions in Margate hired by the city commission. The other two are the city attorney and city clerk.
Commissioner, Lesa Peerman, spoke highly of May, but suggested that if a person is hired from within, that person should be entitled to a six-month probationary period and allowed to return to their previous position should either the individual or city feel as though the fit isn’t right.
“When Jerry Blough went to city manager from police chief it was two totally different people. He was a totally different person so I think we need that time to learn what that personality is going to be like,” Peerman said.
Vice Mayor, Arlene Schwartz, shared that hiring someone from within isn’t always ideal. People have been promoted to the city manager position in the past who might not have been entirely qualified. She also asked whether the position would be open to other candidates now employed by the City.
“Sometimes it’s not the best thing to do,” Schwartz said. “I have no problem with Sam May as a candidate, just the way we’re doing this now...seems a strange thing to do.”
Schwartz suggested appointing someone interim to learn whether that person is right for the job and whether the city should engage a job search.
Commissioner, Anthony Caggiano, said he’s “a fan” of hiring from within.
“I believe it gives people who are lower in the ranks a better opportunity and path for them along the way,” he said.
May was in the audience and was asked if he was interested in the position.
“I do have an interest in this job and I do have to say with a very heavy heart leaving public works, because you all do know that I really have a place in my heart for public works because I really love what I do there,” said May. It would be a difficult decision to make, but I would accept that role [city manager].
If promoted, Schwartz asked May if he would have a problem “having a heavy hand” with those who were once his colleagues.
“I don’t have a problem doing that,” May said. “Yes, dealing with personnel issues is a very difficult thing - a very difficult task, but it isn’t something I shy away from.”
Elected officials agreed that the discussion would be continued at the Wednesday January 18 city commission meeting.
“I think Sam May knows more about the city than anybody in here. He’s the go to guy, he’s a great leader and respected by everybody, and if we didn’t hire him I think it would be a disservice to the city. The guy is a huge asset. I’m not saying the rest of you [department heads aren’t], but right now to get somebody in there and get them running I think he is the best candidate we have,” Ruzzano said, adding that four Broward cities are currently searching for city managers.
For more on Sam May visit http://www.margatenews.net/3909/52154/a/city-recognition-sam-may-25-years