Now there are five — finalists, that is, for the Key West city manager job.

The city commission on Jan. 18 added two names to the list of three finalists recommended by the appointed search committee.

At the Jan. 18 city commission meeting, officials added applicants Lisa Hendrickson and Albert Childress to the previous list of David Burke, Thaddeus Cohen and Abe Conn.

Some search committee members, each of whom was appointed by the mayor or a city commissioner, failed to follow the instructions they were given, which was to select three candidates from the list of nine finalists compiled by search consultant Dona Higginbotham.

“Not all members selected three candidates,” Higginbotham told the commission on Jan. 18. 

Commissioner Mary Lou Hoover said, “I don’t know how we got some members recommending two names, some recommending four and one only recommending one candidate. It seems that would skew the tally.”

Higginbotham confirmed that the committee members were instructed to select three candidates, possibly four, but no fewer than three. 

“We always hope people will do as they’re asked, but some did not,” Higginbotham said.

Mayor Teri Johnston acknowledged that the process “didn’t seem like rocket science.”

Nevertheless, Commissioner Sam Kaufman suggested the commission move forward with the addition of Hendrickson and Childress to the list of candidates who will be invited to Key West for interviews next month.

The commission is expected to make its final decision on the next city manager on Feb. 15. Interviews will include public receptions that enable residents and business owners to meet the final five candidates.

Childress worked for Doral, Florida for 16 years, most recently serving as its city manager for two years. Before that, Childress was the code compliance director for Miami from 1996-2005.

Hendrickson has served as assistant city manager of Pinellas Park, a city of over 53,000 residents, from 2020 to 2022. She is also a human resources administrator.

Conn, a retired U.S. Army colonel, served three one-year tours in Afghanistan as a battalion commander and colonel in command of the Army Liaison Team there. He also worked for 26 years as a senior special agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Key West, according to his application.

Cohen is an architect by trade who formerly worked as Key West’s planning director. He is now a project manager for MBR Construction in Fort Lauderdale. From 2017 to 2021, he worked as a department head in charge of growth management for Collier County, Florida, his application states.

Burke is a retiring Navy captain who most recently has served as chief of staff for JIATF-South, the military’s elite Joint Interagency Task Force headquartered at Truman Annex in Key West. He and his family have lived in Key West since 2020 and consider the island their permanent home, his application states.

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.