Forty-three people have applied for the Key West city manager position, including a few locally familiar names — former mayor Morgan McPherson, former planning director Thaddeus Cohen and retired Army Col. Abe Conn. 

(Additional applicants may be local residents, but due to potential similarity in names, the Keys Weekly cannot confirm them until we receive the applicants’ full resumes.)

“…The full applications will be provided after their social security numbers have been redacted and any other sensitive information not subject to the public records law. Have a nice evening,” states Monday’s email from the Key West city clerk’s office. 

The Keys Weekly received the list of applicants just after 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, a week after filing a public record request for the information.

Some city officials and search consultant Dona Higginbotham of The Mercer Group, which specializes in executive recruitment for Florida cities and counties, initially declined to release the list of applicants. They cited an agreed-upon timeline that would have provided the applicant list to the search committee appointed to evaluate candidates on Dec. 15.

Key West City Attorney Shawn Smith emphasized in repeated emails to Higginbotham, Mayor Teri Johnston and the city commissioners that the city’s refusal to release the requested applicant list violated the state’s public record laws. 

The fact that applications were sent to a third-party consultant (Higginbotham at The Mercer Group) rather than directly to the city did not change their status as public records under state law, Smith wrote in an email, warning Higginbotham and city officials of potential civil and criminal penalties and insisting the applicant list be released immediately.

In examining a list of job openings advertised on The Mercer Group’s website, the Keys Weekly noted that other listings for government jobs in Florida — Cape Coral building official, Fort Myers city manager and Sewall’s Point Town Manager — all include a statement at the bottom telling potential applicants, “Resumes are subject to the provisions of Florida’s public record laws.”

The Key West city manager job posting includes no such statement.

The Keys Weekly has asked Higginbotham, Mayor Teri Johnston and City Manager Patti McLauchlin, who retires in July, about the discrepancy. The Keys Weekly also pointed out that the Key West job posting describes the city as a “commission-manager” form of government. But the city charter describes Key West as a city manager form of government, which McLauchlin confirmed on Monday morning.

McLauchlin responded promptly to our email the morning of Monday, Dec. 5, writing, “The public record request has been sent to (Higginbotham) and the information will be sent to all who have requested it. Key West is a city-manager form of government. I will make sure we have a correction with the Mercer Group.”

Higginbotham had not replied to the Keys Weekly’s question about the public record disclaimer that is absent from the Key West job listing as of 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5.

Stay tuned to keysweekly.com for details about the applicants when the Keys Weekly receives their full resumes and applications. 

Below is the list of applicants for Key West city manager. The job description posted online seeks a candidate with a degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, Finance or a related field. It also seeks a candidate with at least five years of local government management experience.

CITY MANAGER APPLICANTS: 

Troy Bell

Raymond Bossert

David Burke

Tina Burns

Albert Childress

Thaddeus Cohen

Abraham Conn

David Couch

Ken Decker

Jason Eisenbeis

Jerry Gabrielatos

Brian Geoghegan

Robert Haverty

Stanley Hawthorne

Lisa Hendrickson

Alfonso Jefferson Jr.

Travis E. Kendall

Don King

William Lawrence

Andrew Linko

Morgan McPherson

John Manning

Benjamin Marchant

Paul Martin

Michael Metheny

Blake Moorehead

Joe Neeb

John Ogren

Richard Olson

Raymond Palmer

Gregory Parker

Carlo M. Pilgrim

Rick Rudometkin

Ron Russo

Anthony Schembri

Michael Silverman

Harry Still

Randy Stoval

James Tierney

Phyllis Tynes

Fred Vella

Robert Zienkowski

George Zoukee

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.