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Lake City’s City Manager Search, Cheese & Crackers II: Thomas Thomas meets a handful of citizens

The Thomas interview begins in City Hall at 10:30 am

Lake City City Manager candidate Thomas Thomas meets Glenel Bowden and Lester McCullum

widget-city-manager-storiesLAKE CITY, FL – Last night in City Hall, City Manager candidate Thomas Thomas met with the public to introduce himself and answer questions. As in the meet & greet with candidate Glen Adams, only a handful of Lake City’s 12,000 appeared, and they were mostly the same as the previous event.

A Couple of Questions for Candidate Thomas

Your reporter asked Mr. Thomas if he was aware of the financial situation in Lake City, which is in critical condition.

Mr. Thomas said that he had dealt with worse financial situations

Your reporter asked, “Worse?”

Mr. Thomas said he was Manager of Macon, Georgia. "They had no reserves left. They were making payroll on tax anticipation notes. That was worse," he said.

Mr. Thomas listens.

Your reporter asked Mr. Thomas about his education. “You have a degree in public administration?”

Mr. Thomas said he specialized in finance and added, “I see a lot of great opportunities here.”

Mr. Thomas said he met Lake City's directors, and they were a team.

Your reporter asked, “What if you need new directors?”

Mr. Adams said he was aware that the City did not have permanent directors, and he would need to fill those spots: fire chief, police chief, assistant city manager, and HR director.

He said he would evaluate all the under-directors and give them goals, measure them “and decide what’s appropriate.”

Mr. Thomas added, "I'm transparent in those kinds of things. In the end, it's taxpayer money."

Your reporter asked about Mr. Thomas’ last assignment.

A few months ago, he said he was interim city manager in Charlotte, Michigan. He said he was there helping them “through and organizational financial analysis.”

Vanessa George

Vanessa  George
Vanessa George | file

Community activist Vanessa George asked Mr. Thomas about his goals.

Mr. Thomas told Ms. George that he would have to figure out how to communicate with the Council members, adding that he would have to figure out what “motivated them to run for public office.”

Your reporter followed up, “Do you think the City Council should be a legislative body or work as a team?”

Mr. Thomas said that they figure out what they will do at work sessions (these are public meetings), then they "legislate at an open meeting."

“That’s the way I approach it. That’s the process I’ve used in my whole career. I believe in it,” he said.

Your reporter asked Mr. Thomas if he was familiar with Florida’s Sunshine Law.

Mr. Thomas said he was. “Emails, texts live forever. I go from that perspective.”

Ms. George asked Mr. Thomas about the utility "mafia" and what he would do about cliques, and if he would take every complaint seriously.

Mr. Thomas said, "yes." All complaints would be investigated, and once they went into litigation, he would have to be hands-off.

How Much Is the Job Worth?

Your reporter asked Mr. Thomas how much he thought the job was worth.

Mr. Thomas said he hadn’t gotten to that yet.

Mr. George reminded your reporter it wasn’t the same question he asked Mr. Adams.

Your reporter asked, “How much did you make at your last job?”

Mr. Thomas said as the interim (city manager-consultant) in a community of about 9,000, he was making around $130k.

Thomas Thomas (middle) views the City Council in action. Holding his hat to block his face, as usual, Shawn Holmgren and to the right, Betty Jefferson.
Mr. Thomas (middle) views the City Council in action. Holding his hat to block his face, as usual, Shawn Holmgren and to the right, Betty Jefferson.

Epilogue: no women allowed

Beginning at 8:30 am this morning, Mr. Thomas will meet with each of the four council members separately for a scheduled thirty minutes.

What they will ask is anybody’s guess?

The Mayor and the three remaining City Councilmen made sure that District 14's council member, Befaithful Coker, was tied up in court and would not be asking any questions.

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