By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor
Delray Beach has selected its next city manager.
In an unanimous decision, commissioners agreed Mark Lauzier was the right candidate for the city’s top job.
He edged out Edward Collins who was the city’s other finalist for the job.
“I believe they both could do a good job,” Commissioner Jim Chard said. “I believe Mark could do a better job.”
Lauzier is currently the assistant city manager for Tacoma, Wash. The Delray job will bring him back to a place he is familiar with, South Florida. He has worked for the cities of Pompano Beach and Parkland.
“I want to come home,” he told commissioners. “I have been preparing my entire professional career for this job.”
Lauzier started his career as a police officer and has overseen large budgets for different cities. His experience with Florida law was a positive for commissioners.
Mayor Cary Glickstein said he would be a “terrific fit” for the city.
Commissioner Shelly Petrolia ultimately supported the decision to select Lauzier, she said her first choice was Collins.
She said she liked that he opened up the city’s budget and dove into it. He has experience with budgets and served as a city manager several times. She noted his even-keeled personality as a plus for her.
But for other commissioners, there was concern that he hasn’t worked as a city manager in 11 years. They also noted the learning curve that would come with learning Florida laws.
“CEOs are just not used to five different bosses and the public scrutiny and people questioning their decisions,” Mayor Glickstein said. “It’s hard for people to jump from private sector back into government, especially in Florida.”
Delray’s city manager struggles
Lauzier will take over from interim city manager Neal de Jesus, who will return to his role as fire chief.
de Jesus took over for Don Cooper who resigned in December due to family medical issues. de Jesus was the commission’s choice for the job after a search for a manager turned up little results.
Prior to Cooper, Louie Chapman served as the city’s leader before he resigned in 2014 after the county’s inspector general found that he ordered garbage carts without permission.
While commissioners agree that Lauzier is the right person for the job, the candidate pool that the search for city manager yielded was low, according to the city’s headhunter W.D. Higginbotham Jr., the senior vice president of The Mercer Group.
He told commissioners one of the reasons for the low turn was the turmoil in city hall. That includes the turnover in the city manager position as well a divided commission on major topics as well as an upcoming municipal election where three seats are up for election.
He said he attempted to describe each commissioner to each candidate and candidates brought up concerns they have after watching the Delray meetings.
“They saw some negative items that brought concern,” he said. “I told them it’s not going to be a walk in the park.”
Lauzier told commissioners that he expects to be challenged.
“I expect people to come out of the woodwork and say, ‘Help me,’” he said.
Lauzier will begin on Nov. 6. He will make $235,00 per year and will receive a monthly car allowance of $650 per month, according to his contract.