ASPEN - Longtime Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick is a finalist for the city manager's job in Miami Beach, Fla., he confirmed Sunday.
Barwick said he was approached recently by a headhunting company, Bob Murray and Associates, about the position. The Miami Herald reported that Barwick is on the firm's short list with three other candidates to interview for the job with the beach resort's City Commission. The South Florida city has about 88,000 residents and a commission-manager type of government similar to Aspen's council-manager style of rule.
Barwick - who has been Aspen's top manager since October 1999 and began his employment with the city in 1993 - said he hasn't been actively looking to leave the Roaring Fork Valley. He said he has yet to be contacted by Miami Beach officials or the headhunter about a face-to-face interview.
"I told City Council members 10 days to two weeks ago I wasn't looking but that I was contacted and chose to put my resume in," he said. "I don't know how (the headhunters) do it, but they keep track of who's been in professional positions for a long time.
"I had a short discussion (on the phone) with someone from Bob Murray. This is the world of city managers. We get contacted all the time. This one looked a little interesting, so I threw my resume in. It's good practice for professional managers to talk to other jurisdictions occasionally, but I'm happy where I am. I love my job in Aspen. It's a great place to work. We've got a great City Council and a fantastic staff."
The council and Barwick agreed to an employment contract in 2010. The contract, which has no ending date, set his salary around $170,000 per year and outlined severance terms should the city manager be terminated or asked to resign. Last year, Barwick and other city workers received a 2 percent raise.
Until 2010, Barwick never had a contract. The manager serves at the whim of the council, and council membership is in a regular state of flux, as elections for two of four council seats and the mayor's post are held every two years.
Barwick said the upcoming changes in City Hall - Mayor Mick Ireland is term-limited from running next spring, and seats belonging to Councilmen Torre and Derek Johnson will be up for re-election - have no bearing on his decision to throw his hat in the ring for the Miami Beach manager's position.
According to the Miami Herald, the other three finalists are:
• Monica Cepero, assistant to Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry and former policy coordinator for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
• Robert Frank, city manager of Ocoee, a city of 36,000 residents near Orlando, and a current Broward County Sheriff's Office reserve deputy.
• Thomas Wilson, assistant city manager of development services in Palm Springs, Calif., a city of 45,000.
Cepero and Frank applied during the first part of the search, while Barwick and Wilson applied afterward, according to the Herald.
The story suggests that the process has gotten political. At the urging of three Miami Beach commissioners, Bob Murray and Associates will further evaluate Emanuel Mayer, a former special assistant to the Miami Beach city manager on capital-improvement projects; Jimmy Morales, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner; and Frank Rollason, former assistant city manager of nearby Miami.
The possible addition of those candidates is said to have riled Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, who expressed dismay that commissioners were going around the city's headhunter.
Prior to coming to Aspen, Barwick served the town of Vail as director of finance and administrative services for eight years. He holds a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor of arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder.