Opa-Locka City Commission Selects New City Manager Amid Controversy

In a decisive meeting of the Opa-Locka City Commission, Darin E. Williams was elected as the new City Manager with a split vote of 3-2. The selection process was marked by intense scrutiny of the candidates’ backgrounds and a substantial discourse on the appropriate salary for the position, which was ultimately set at $190,000 annually. The meeting also included a substantial public input segment where community members voiced strong support for the interim city manager and raised concerns regarding the Housing Authority’s management of Gloria Gardens.

One notable issue addressed during the meeting was the selection of a new city manager. After a rigorous recruitment process that yielded 98 responses and led to three shortlisted candidates, the commission members deliberated over the qualifications, backgrounds, and visions presented by the finalists. The candidates were Darin E. Williams, Louie Chapman Jr., and Kamar Brown.

Each candidate had the opportunity to respond to questions from the commission, outlining their experience, leadership style, and plans for the city. Williams shared his personal journey of overcoming adversity, including his military service and commitment to community service, emphasizing his deep connection with the city’s residents. Brown recounted her family’s history with the area and her vision for leading the city out of financial oversight, while Chapman presented his long-standing experience in municipal management and his intention to work with the commission to move the city forward.

The meeting included a review of background checks for each candidate, revealing various histories. Williams had a record that included a charge for grand theft of a vehicle, while Brown was associated with two lawsuits filed against a business she represented and had a suspended license and traffic citations across different counties. Chapman’s background check noted his resignation from a prior city manager position at Delray Beach following a hold on his hiring due to background checks regarding civil suits.

The commission decided to allow the candidates to speak to their background checks and express their motivations for the city manager role. The HR Director emphasized that the background checks represented past events and not necessarily current circumstances, and the commission prepared to submit their votes.

After the presentations and discussions, the commission voted to extend a job offer to Darin E. Williams. The attorney provided guidance on the procedure for inserting Williams’ name into the resolution and the employment agreement’s salary negotiation. With a proposed range of $175,000 to $200,000, the commission settled on a salary of $190,000, and the resolution to officially select Williams and approve the employment agreement passed with another 3-2 vote. The commission acknowledged the need to negotiate final contract terms, as the salary had not been formally noticed to candidates before the meeting.

During the public input segment of the meeting, the commission heard from numerous residents and community representatives, many of whom expressed a strong desire to maintain consistency in city management. The city’s interim city manager received substantial support from speakers who highlighted his engagement with the community and advocated for his continuation in the role. Concerns were also raised about the management of Gloria Gardens by the Housing Authority, with citizens voicing uncertainty over the long-term security of residents and the need for greater transparency from the commission.

One citizen, Mr. Gary, criticized the commission for a delayed response to rent payment issues and for the decision to charge back pay. Sergeant Hermon Bskis recounted improvements in the community and police department, attributing stability to the current city management. The Chief of Police supported the interim city manager, citing his positive impact, including new vehicles, pay raises, and an impending PBA contract. A PBA representative also backed the interim manager for his support in securing a favorable contract for the police force.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
John H. Taylor, Jr.
City Council Officials:
John H. Taylor, Jr., Natasha L. Ervin, Dr. Sherelean Bass, Joseph L. Kelley, Veronica J. Williams

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