Roberto “Rob” Hernandez chosen as Savannah’s new City Manager

Roberto “Rob” Hernandez was named this morning as the pick for Savannah’s new City Manager. Savannah City Council will vote on his selection at an upcoming meeting, and there are surely some contract details yet to be finalized.

There will be lots of complaints about city council making this choice without any sort of public process, but, as I’ve noted in my City Talk columns in the Savannah Morning News, we had a very public search process that resulted in the hiring of Rochelle Small-Toney.

So who is Rob Hernandez?

Here are some key details from the Broward County, Florida website, with emphasis added:

Rob Hernandez is an ICMA-Credentialed Manager with more than twenty years of progressive and responsible local government management experience. He re-joined Broward County in July 2013 as Deputy County Administrator. Previously, he served as Deputy City Manager for the City of Coral Springs overseeing various city functions as well as the city’s community redevelopment agency. Prior to Coral Springs, he served as Deputy County Manager for Fulton County, Ga., where he oversaw public safety agencies, unincorporated area services, the Office of the Child Attorney, offender reentry program, and coordinated with the County’s constitutional and judicial agencies.

Hernandez is also retired from the U.S. Army Reserves.

Broward County has a population of more than 1.9 million and is home to Fort Lauderdale. The county is about 43 percent non-Hispanic white, 26 percent non-Hispanic black, and 26 percent Hispanic. So, it’s a big, diverse metro area, which is dealing with issues of tourism, climate, economic development, traffic, and so forth.

I’m assuming that Hernandez identifies as Hispanic, which has some interesting political elements. If the mayor and members of city council had hired a black or a non-Hispanic white city manager, there would have been some of the usual racial resentment, but that tension is disrupted by the choice of a Hispanic.

Hernandez has been looking to move up the ladder for a while; he’s been a named finalist for manager positions in El Paso, Fort Myers, Delray Beach, and Pinecrest, Fla. He’s clearly a credible pick who has been extensively vetted in other searches before ours.

Hernandez is in his late 40s, I think, though I haven’t seen any confirmation of age.

I hope he gets a warm welcome.

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