After two decades of leadership under the same city manager, Sanibel City Council recently selected Judie Zimomra’s replacement at a special meeting to guide the City of Sanibel into the future.
On September 30, the council unanimously chose Dana Souza in a 5-0 vote to become the next city manager. Making their selection by ballot, the initial vote was split 3-2, with Mayor Holly Smith and council members Dr Scott Crater and John Henshaw in favor of Souza, while Deputy Mayor Richard Johnson and member of Council Mike Miller supported Director of Community Services Keith Williams.
After City Attorney John Agnew counted the ballots and shared the results, Smith reported that the same thing happened 20 years ago when Zimomra received a majority of support in a split vote. She continued that the city council at the time agreed to a vote to show consensus and support for Zimomra.
Smith asked the rest of the platform if they should follow suit. Everyone agreed and the 5-0 vote took place.
Also at the meeting, the board selected a replacement candidate in case negotiations with Souza fail. Making the choice by ballot again, the vote was divided 4-1, with Johnson, Crater, Henshaw and Miller supporting Williams, while Smith supporting third and final candidate Jeffrey Durbin.
Again, the board accepted a consensus vote and Williams received a unanimous 5-0.
Before voting, council members discussed the three candidates at length. They each shared what they were looking for in the next manager in town, including experience, skills and abilities. All five also took the opportunity to congratulate the candidates and thank them for their interest and time.
In June, the city hired Colin Baenziger & Associates to conduct the nationwide search for Zimomra’s replacement. About 96 candidates applied for the position, and then the pool was reduced to five for the board to review. However, two finalists withdrew before the in-person interview.
On September 29, the board held another special meeting to conduct candidate interviews. Souza, Williams and Durbin each offered a brief introduction, followed by questions posed on the podium. In order to involve the island in the process, a “Community meeting” also took place.
With over 35 years of experience in local government, Souza is the Interim City Manager in Naples. In Naples, he previously held positions of Deputy City Manager and Director of Community Services.
Prior to Naples, Souza served the city of Greenville, SC, as Director of Parks, Recreation and Sustainability; Marco Island as interim manager and director of parks and recreation; City of Portland, Maine, as director of parks and recreation; Union, New York, as director of Parks & Recreation; and the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, as director of parks, cemeteries and forests.