FORT MYERS, Fla. — City council has officially selected Marty Lawing from North Carolina as Fort Myers’ new city manager. This comes on the last day for the outgoing manager, Saeed Kazemi.
Lawing most recently worked as the Guilford County manager in North Carolina from 2013 until he resigned in December. His resume points to his experience managing the county’s $600 million budget. He has nearly 40 years of experience working in local government.
He also started a family justice center for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
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Mayor Kevin Anderson says now that he has the job, he expects Lawing to focus on three things.
“Communication, transparency, responsiveness are all important,” he said.
Characteristics the mayor says were questionable with Kazemi when he asked him to step down in November.
“I think he realizes how important that is to us,” said Anderson.
Lawing said he already has a plan in place for that, starting with building relationships with city officials.
“[Then] Branch out externally and start developing relationships with Lee County officials. Other municipal officials, with the other municipalities,” said Lawing.
In the meantime, the City’s Legal Administrator Phyllis Calloway will serve as the interim city manager. She revamped the city attorney’s office after unfounded claims of harassment came to light. She shared some advice for Lawing.
“Be objective. Be honest. Be transparent. Communicate like you’ve never communicated before,” she said.
Calloway added the incoming city manager should also be prepared for the possibility of replacing the city’s police chief, as chief Derrick Diggs recently applied for a chief position in Columbus, Ohio.
“We will need to take a look and see who takes over, and how it goes from there. But, the relationship building is what we’re going to focus on over the next few months,” said Calloway.
The negotiation process for Lawing’s new job has already started. The mayor says it could move fairly quickly. When the contract is finalized, it’ll be brought to council for a vote before he officially starts working.