Guiding the future of Mount Dora is a tremendous undertaking, but the two finalists for city's top administrator are up for the task. Vincent Pastue, current city manager of Farmington Michigan, and John Bonfield, former city manger of St. Petersburg Beach, both bring considerable experience to the table The finalists for Mount Dora's city manager position will have personal meetings with the city council members tomorrow. Residents are invited to meet the candidates on Friday evening at the Mount Dora Community Building from 5-7 pm during a community 'meet and greet'. Meanwhile, the finalists took time to answer questions from Mount Dora Buzz to help residents get acquainted with them.
M.D. BUZZ: What attracted you to Mount Dora’s city manager position? BONFIELD: My wife & I love Mount Dora and have visited a number of times over the years. We've been visiting for nineteen years and very familiar with area and love its uniqueness and small town environment. PASTUE: I’m at a point personally and professionally to move on. I like the small town feel and all the activities, and my son lives in Tampa.
M.D. BUZZ: What are Mount Dora's two greatest attributes? BONFIELD: The history and uniqueness of its downtown is something very few places in Florida have. Also, the location, geography and variety it offers. PASTUE: The traditional downtown is very attractive and the small town character of the area.
M.D. BUZZ: Preservation and controlled growth are key to Mount Dora. How do you managing growth while capitalizing on Mount Dora's reputation of being the “New England of the South? BONFIELD: Planning ahead for growth and guiding it, instead of letting it guide you. Identify how you want to be as a city and how you want that growth to benefit the community. PASTUE: Preserve character and charm quality by not bulldozing the past and being very diligent and vigilant on density, traffic, development and preservation.
M.D. BUZZ: How many years of managing and directing economic development to you have? BONFIELD: 15 years as the city manager PASTUE: Probably 18
M.D. BUZZ: Why did you leave your last position or why are you considering changing positions? BONFIELD: Left last May after a change on they city's commission after 12 good years as city manager. PASTUE: After 12 years, it was time personally and professionally since the city is in a strong position and considered a desirable community. I gave 7 months notice of my intention to leave.
M.D. BUZZ: Did the most recent city budget you managed have a surplus your last two years? BONFIELD: Yes, we typically ended right on budget with a little surplus or a small deficit. PASTUE: Two years ago, yes. One year ago was a planned deficit for capital projects.
M.D. BUZZ: Proudest professional accomplishment? BONFIELD: The time in Madeira Beach & St. Petersburg Beach and the stability I brought to those cities and getting them in a better condition than when I started. Also, the strong staff put in place that gave those cities great things to build from. PASTUE: Getting the city through the economic downtown turn and still maintain character of the city and its services, plus the transformative improvements to our downtown (infrastructure and redevelopment project).
M.D. BUZZ: Regards to the most recent city you managed, what bond rating did it earn and for how long? BONFIELD: We paid off the only bond the city had several years ago and it was A rated. The city didn't need to go through a rating process recently because there was no need for debt. PASTUE: Maintained AA bond rating preceeding and continuing through entire tenure, including during economic downturn.
M.D. BUZZ: Largest budget managed? BONFIELD: $25 million PASTUE: $25 million
M.D. BUZZ: Largest number of employees managed? BONFIELD: 150 PASTUE: 200
M.D. BUZZ: What city will you live in if you’re hired? BONFIELD: Mount Dora PASTUE: Mount Dora
M.D. BUZZ: What are two of your biggest strengths? BONFIELD: My length of diversified experience and ability to communicate & understand people of all different types of the community. PASTUE: My financial background and being able to work with people during difficult and emotional circumstances.
M.D. BUZZ: What is your greatest weakness? BONFIELD: To always remember you can’t over communicate to the public. Anyone that spends time in government knows that they can always improve their communication. PASTUE: I stay very current with technology professionally, but could do better staying on top of more advanced technologies for personal use.
M.D. BUZZ: Two words to describe your management style? BONFIELD: Open & accessible to staff, elected officials and the community. Calming. PASTUE: Collaborative and visionary.
M.D. BUZZ: Two words your staff would use to describe your management style? BONFIELD: Fair & consistent PASTUE: The same (collaborative and visionary)
M.D. BUZZ: Two words to describe your communication style? BONFIELD: Honest & direct PASTUE: Clear & concise
M.D. BUZZ: Best vacation you ever had? BONFIELD: When I was 6 years old, it was a train ride from St. Petersburg to North Dakota. PASTUE: As a kid, fishing in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my father.
M.D. BUZZ: Two things you enjoy for recreation? BONFIELD: Golf and projects around the house PASTUE: Golf and fishing
M.D. BUZZ: Favorite vintage car? BONFIELD: 1969 Buick Skylark (first car) PASTUE: Late 1970's Trans Am
In addition to Friday evening's community "meet & greet", residents can also attend the public meeting with Mount Dora City Council and the finalists at City Hall on Saturday beginning at 8:45 a.m.