Jim Mercer of The Mercer Group, the search firm hired by the city of Port Arthur to find its next city manager to replace Steve Fitzgibbons, relayed to The Examiner last week that he had identified five candidates for the position. One of those candidates was identified and verified last week as current assistant city manager Becky Underhill, who has been with the city in some capacity for the past 20 years, including eight in her current role.
The city released the names of the other four candidates last week after a freedom of information request, all of whom have interviewed with The Mercer Group. The City Council is in the process of going through those taped interviews as well as through the credentials and resumes of the five candidates. Below are the names of the five candidates along with a few facts about them. It’s important to note these are not the five “finalists” for the city manager position, but rather “candidates of interest” as identified by both the city and Mercer. Port Arthur Mayor Bobbie Prince said the city will meet with Mercer again next week to identify the next step in the process, and whether that means bringing one of the candidates of interest to Port Arthur for another interview or requesting more candidates remains to be seen. More will be known in the following week.
For comparison’s sake, the city of Port Arthur has a population of 53,000, an operating city budget of $112 million and employs 670 people.
Alexander is currently the city manager in Bonham, Texas, a city with a population of roughly 10,200 and is located in northeast Texas. Alexander has been the city manager in Bonham since April 2007 and according to his information, operates with a $14 million budget. Prior to Bonham, he worked as a city administrator in Jefferson, Tx., and also worked as a management analyst in College Station for three years. A Texas A&M graduate, he also has a Master of Arts in Public Service and Administration from the George Bush School of Government. Overall, Alexander has 12 years of city administration experience.
Johnson has the most city administration experience of all the candidates listed, as he has 26 years of combined experience. He’s currently the director of the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency where he’s responsible for all the redevelopment activities in the 3,000 acres of the northwest area of Broward County’s sixth largest city, according to his resume. He’s been a city manager in both Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he oversaw a $345 million budget, and prior to that he was city manager in Richmond, California, where he oversaw a budget of $191 million. He spent five and four years respectively in each location. He’s a former Marine, and graduated from the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Va., and received a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from Occidental College in Los Angeles. He has no experience with Texas government.
Rose is currently the president of Rose Consulting Group, based out of Dallas, which he has operated since December 2009. While he had a brief stay as a city administrator in Hyattsville, Maryland, prior to that he was the city manager in North Las Vegas for six years and was assistant city manager for two years prior to that. In Vegas, he oversaw 2,200 employees and operated a $212 million budget. He’s also been an assistant and deputy city manager in Warrensburg, Missouri, and University City, Missouri, respectively. An Air Force veteran, he received both his undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. Overall, he has 19 years of city administration experience, however none in Texas government.
Turner has spent the bulk of his professional career in both Texas and Florida, where he has served as city managers in both states. In Texas, he worked in both Dallas and Longview before spending three years as the city manager of McKinney, Texas, overseeing 450 employees and operating with a $89 million budget from 1997-2000. He made the move to Florida in June 2001 and has since served as city manager in both Ormond Beach and most recently in Venice from 2009-2011. Currently he’s a consultant for management solutions in Venice. Turner received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and his Masters of Public Administration from The University of Kansas’ School of Public Affairs and Administration. Turner has 22 years of city administration experience including 13 in Texas government.
The local candidate, Underhill is a graduate of Lamar University and has spent her entire career working in government, getting her start as an auditor in 1983. She’s spent 20 years working for the city of Port Arthur, where she has served in a variety of roles, working her way from the bottom as an accounting manager to assistant city secretary under Steve Fitzgibbons. A certified public accountant and Port Arthur native, Underhill is familiar with the city council, as well as with the city staff and has helped guide the city financially through two crippling natural disasters. In total she has 10 years of city administration experience, all of which have been in Texas.
Fred Davis can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 227, or by e-mail at fred [at] theexaminer [dot] com.