Decision comes despite vocal public support for finalist Abe Conn

In a somewhat surprising move Wednesday evening, Key West’s elected officials selected newcomer Albert Childress as the next city manager to succeed Patti McLauchlin, who retires this summer.

Childress has 16 years of experience as city manager of Doral, Florida and more than 20 years of public service. He has masters degrees in business and in public administration. 

Childress received the needed four votes from the commission in the first round of voting.

Commissioners Lissette Carey, Mary Lou Hoover, Jimmy Weekley and Mayor Teri Johnston voted for Childress. Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Sam Kaufman supported Thaddeus Cohen. 

Commissioner Billy Wardlow supported Abe Conn, who also had vocal support from a dozen or so supporters, who spoke in favor of Conn at the Feb. 16 special city commission meeting.

Resident Tom Milone spoke on behalf of Childress given his qualifications and experience.

Before the vote, Johnston said she was basing her decision largely on the feedback she had received from city staff and department heads, who spent two days meeting with the four finalists at City Hall.

Contract negotiations are the next step. Stay tuned to for updates.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.