RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Ever since council fired city manager Jonathan Evans in September 2017, Riviera Beach has not had a permanent city manager.
Karen Hoskisn, who has been the interim city manager since November 2017, is going to retire by the end of the week. Council voted 5-0 to hire Deirdre Jacobs as the new interim, but the focus of Monday’s meeting was bringing Evans back.
“In the next 30 to 60 days, can we bring Jonathan back?” Mayor Ronnie Felder asked.
The city attorney said yes.
“That’s all that matters,” Felder said to applause in the audience.
Thousands of Riviera Beach residents had signed petitions to recall the three city council members who voted to fire Evans. They had pleaded with them to change their decisions, week after week.
All three council members have since been voted out of office.
“What these three board members did, the secret meeting with the chief of police, we have not forgotten any of this turmoil,” said Riviera Beach resident Doretha Polk. “And it was indeed turmoil in this city.”
But even from afar, some former council members are still working to keep Evans from coming back.
Former Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard sent a letter, threatening to sue the city if Evans was to be hired again.
The majority on council was not intimidated by that.
“There are potentially some scare tactics, but I think as a city, we’re a united front and it’s time to move forward,” said Councilman Tradrick McCoy.
McCoy defeated Hubbard in the March election.
Councilwoman Julia Botel, who won in a landslide against another council member who had voted to fire Evans, said despite the threat of lawsuits, the business of the city can’t be dictated by former council members.
“I don’t think that they’re going to be doing anything more negative to us than they already have in the past,” Botel said.
Council voted unanimously to enter contract negotiations with Evans.
Evans is currently the city manager in Madeira Beach.
“I have not made a decision yet if I’m coming back,” Evans said on Monday.
On Friday Evans will have one-on-one talks with council members.
“It’s to understand what their vision is for the city and what mine is and see if the two align and if this is a good fit for all of us,” Evans said.