Dade City has selected someone with a familiar face to be its next city manager.
City Commissioners on April 3 voted to extend an offer and enter contract negotiations with Leslie Porter to become Dade City’s next city manager.
Porter, the city’s finance director, has been acting as the interim city manager since February. She’s also been handling her responsibilities as finance director.
If negotiations are fruitful, Porter will assume the vacancy created by Billy Poe, who left the post after nearly 12 years. Poe is now the deputy city manager in the City of Zephyrhills and is expected to move up to city manager when that post is vacated.
The decision to offer Porter the city manager job came during a special meeting, when commissioners had been expected to review and rank top candidates for the city manager position. Porter was one of the nine applicants who applied by the March 15 deadline.
It marked the second call for applications after the city was unable to come to a contract agreement with Christopher Edwards, its top candidate for the position back in February.
Edwards is a real estate associate in Tallahassee and former deputy director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economy Vitality.
Instead of selecting a list of new candidates to interview, the commission opted to proceed with Porter for the position, citing her performance as acting city manager over the last two months while also juggling her duties as finance director.
Porter has served as the city’s finance director since 2014. Before that, she spent nearly a decade working as town treasurer for the Town of Chesapeake Beach in Maryland.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University and a master’s degree from George Washington University.
Commissioner Nicole Deese Newlon said she’s been impressed with Porter during her stint as acting city manager role.
Like others, she previously expressed concern about Porter’s lack of city management experience to take on the post full time.
Said Newlon, “I think that Ms. Porter has done an excellent job and continues to do a great job, quite frankly doing two very large jobs, and I continue to be impressed by the work she’s doing.”
Others on the commission offered similar assessments.
Commissioner Jim Shive offered a strong endorsement for Porter, saying she’s exhibited “true leadership” and “a great propensity for achieving and personal growth.
“She continues to step up a notch,” said Shive. “I think we have a great opportunity to promote an individual from within, who’s shown a commitment and dedication to Dade City, and is up to the challenge.”
Mayor Camille Hernandez described Porter as “a no-nonsense gal” who “knows the job and the task at hand.”
“We have someone that knows our system, knows our city, is definitely committed and dedicated to the job,” Hernandez said.
She added, “It’s been interesting to watch her evolve over the last two months or so. She understands that she doesn’t know everything and there’s a lot to learn, but I love that about her, that she’s up for the challenge.”
Mayor Pro Tem Eunice Penix added of Porter: “I think she has done a great job, too. To me, we need her. She is well capable.”
Even City Attorney Nancy Stuparich weighed in on Porter: “I’ve enjoyed working with Leslie the last few months. She’s a very quick learner, and she’s had a lot of issues put on her very quickly and has been very responsive.”
Commissioner Scott Black was the lone voice to suggest the commission conduct interviews with some other applicants for the position, in addition to Porter.
Said Black, “I would feel more comfortable having a little more time to observe (Porter) for a longer period of time as different things come up that could be challenges to her, but I do think she’s done a good job.
“I do have a lot of confidence in Ms. Porter, especially given her finance background, but I’d like to talk to some of these others (that applied).”
The mayor and city attorney will now undergo contract negotiations with Porter, with an update expected at an April 23 city commission meeting.
As finance director, Porter makes nearly $86,000. However, her earnings have bumped to nearly $99,000 since taking on the additional role of acting city manager.
Provided an agreement with Porter is reached, commissioners mentioned City Hall will likely undergo some restructuring, as they look to hire a new finance director, and possibly add an assistant city manager and economic development specialist to the city’s organizational leadership chart.
Published April 10, 2019