Disappointment expressed as Fort Myers searches for new city manager

Published: December 7, 2020 10:38 PM EST
Updated: December 8, 2020 4:40 AM EST

The search is on for a brand-new city manager in Fort Myers.

Fort Myers City Council discussed a search of both local and nationwide candidates to replace City Manager Saeed Kazemi during the regular meeting Monday. It’s a process the council is not in complete agreement on.

Kazemi submitted his letter for retirement recently after Mayor Kevin Anderson requested his resignation in November.

A lot of people are not happy to see the city manager go, including two council members who asked him to rescind his retirement letter.

Nearly a dozen community members also showed up to defend the city manager’s reputation, many of them sharing stories about just how much Kazemi has done for the community.

Some also expressed disappointment in the mayor.

“I can’t imagine being installed as the mayor and then the next day asking for his resignation without any kind of discussion, any kind of thought openly to the citizens of this area,” former Councilwoman Gaile Anthony said. “If you let him retire that probably will be one of the biggest mistakes that you can make.”

Anderson started the meeting by making a motion to accept Kazemi’s resignation. That motion failed. Later in the meeting Councilwoman Terolyn Watson told the mayor she did not agree with the way he asked the city manager to resign.

“Kevin, you were wrong,” Watson said. “That was wrong to do that without talking to us in public.”

Watson and Councilwoman Teresa Watkins Brown both asked the city manager to rescind his retirement, but Kazemi said he plans to stand by his decision and retire May 3, 2021.

“The best decision is for me to step back and let the city move forward,” Kazemi said.

The council decided to advertise the open city manager position locally. Members say the public will have an opportunity to share their input about who locals think the best candidate will be.

The goal is to hire a new city manager by April 1. Kazemi agreed to work with his replacement for 30 days to help create a smooth transition.