November 18, 2017

In the News

Miami’s new mayor gives city manager two months to find a new job or resign

By David Smiley

The man who handles Miami’s $1 billion city government is going to have to speed up that job search.

Daniel Alfonso, Miami’s city manager since 2014, has two months to find a new job outside city government, according to an agreement he’s reached with mayor-elect Francis Suarez. He said he’s agreed to step down no later than Jan. 10 as Suarez begins to transition in his administration.

“The incoming mayor and I had a cordial discussion and we have come to an understanding of how we’re going to transition to a new manager and administration,” Alfonso said in an interview. “I’m very happy to have served here the last six years.”

Alfonso, a former city budget director elevated to city manager by outgoing Mayor Tomás Regalado, oversees the city government’s day-to-day operations and serves as the supervisor for Miami’s police and fire chiefs. With Suarez’s election all-but-certain long ago, Alfonso — whom Suarez once voted to fire — has known his time would be short once the new mayor was chosen in Tuesday’s elections.

Alfonso has interviewed at Marco Island and Manatee County in Florida, and Beaufort County, South Carolina, among other places. He is currently in the running for a job as the administrator of the city of Austin, Texas.

Suarez said he hasn’t yet settled on a replacement, although he’s narrowed down the candidates to a couple of people, whom he declined to name. He also said he hasn’t yet come to an agreement with Alfonso on the terms of his exit.

“We really haven’t hammered out those details,” he said.

Finding a replacement could be tricky. Suarez expects to resume a push to empower the mayor — currently a mostly ceremonial job — as a “strong” administrative position, a job currently belonging to the city manager. The city is also known for churning through administrators due to a quirk in the charter that gives both the mayor and the commission the power to fire the manager.

Suarez said he’s trying to find the right person for the job. Whoever he picks will need right away to manage a voter-approved $400 million bond program, handle a dispute with the city’s unions that is threatening to top a quarter-billion dollars, and oversee a work force of several thousand employees.

“I haven’t yet made up my mind. I’ve been doing my due diligence on a variety of people,” said Suarez. “I’m trying to be sensitive to all those realities and pick a person with an unimpeachable reputation.”