When Beaufort County deputy administrator Josh Gruber has a final interview later this week, he won’t be facing much competition for the job of city manager in Marco Island, Fla.
In fact — with the withdrawal of the other finalist, Marple Township, Pa., manager Anthony Hamaday — Gruber is the only candidate scheduled to be interviewed Wednesday evening during a special meeting of the Marco Island City Council.
Gruber, reached Monday by phone in Florida, said he was “both nervous and excited” about the upcoming interview.
Some have taken to the pages of Marco Island’s local newspaper The Eagle to write letters to the editor expressing concerns about the lack of a second candidate.
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Island resident Russ Colombo wrote to the paper last week that the city manager hiring process “has hit a bit of a snag,” and “the city council would be well advised to delay the above process and request one or more additional candidates” rather than hire Gruber “by default.”
In a letter published in response, Marco Island City Council chairman Larry Honig wrote that there is “no snag” in the process “and nothing — nothing — is being done by default.”
“I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I can assure the community that I will not vote for a candidate simply because he or she is the ‘last one,’ ” he wrote.
Gruber was selected as a finalist for the position last month after the Marco Island leaders winnowed down a list of 85 applicants.
“To bring back candidates who have already been rejected would be odd,” Honig wrote in his letter to the editor.
Marco Island leaders will interview Gruber on Wednesday and plan to make a final hiring decision that evening.
However, just because Gruber is the only remaining candidate doesn’t mean the city manager gig is automatically his.
After Wednesday’s public interview, “if five or more of us on City Council wish to extend an offer, we can do so,” Honig wrote. “If we do not wish to extend an offer, we won’t, and we can restart the (hiring) process.”
Gruber said Monday that he is looking forward to the interview, but “we will just have to see how it plays out.”
This is not the first time in recent months that Gruber — long considered a potential a replacement for Beaufort County administrator Gary Kubic when he retires at the end of the year — has been a finalist for city manager position in Florida.
In April, he was the runner-up for the top spot in the Fort Myers Beach town government. Coincidentally, that town manager job ultimately went to former Marco Island city manager Roger Hernstadt.