Gainesville is one employment contract away from securing a city manager.
In a special meeting at the Gainesville City Hall auditorium on Friday afternoon, city commissioners officially selected Lee Feldman as their desired city planner and motioned to begin negotiating his employment contract.
The motion was passed 6-1 with Commissioner David Arreola in dissent. Arreola declined to comment due to the “sensitive nature of a vote regarding someone’s employment,” he said.
Before the vote, each commissioner announced both the candidate they wished to vote for as well as their reasons for selection. Commissioner Gail Johnson used this opportunity to extend her support to Feldman.
“I think he knows who we are and he knows the challenges he is stepping into, and he’s ready to do it. He’s ready to do the job,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she talked to more than 20 people in the community, and all of them were in agreement that Feldman would be the best fit for Gainesville. She agreed and supports him for a myriad of reasons, she said.
“We have a very unique community, and I don’t think there’s anything this man hasn’t seen,” Johnson said.
Commissioner Helen Warren said of the five candidates, Feldman was the only candidate who presented a written proposal of a plan to move forward with the city, she said.
“I’m looking for someone who can focus on what our financial future is going to look like,” Warren said. “I could go on with other characteristics, but he was my favorite, and I can stay with that.”
Before the vote, Mayor Lauren Poe addressed the other candidates and advised them to “hold out for that next job”. He then said he wants the best for each candidate because of all of their hard work.
The floor was briefly opened for citizen comment, during which Nick Gonzalez, 35, expressed his support for Feldman.
Gonzalez, a Gainesville firefighter and vice president of the Gainesville Professional Firefighters’ union, said his union works very closely with both the city manager and the city commission on a variety of issues from service delivery to working conditions to benefits.
After reaching out to each of the candidates, Gonzalez described Feldman as “head and shoulders above the other candidates.” He reasoned that Feldman is both the most experienced candidate and the most prepared to lead this organization, he said.
“He's got great ideas on many far reaching issues for our city, and it's kind of a breath of fresh air,” Gonzalez said. “I look forward to working with him and I am excited to see what he can do.”