Michael H. Johansson, U.S.Navy Captain, Picked as Port Orange New City Manager


Michael “Jake” Johansson
. Leader Commanding Naval Installations at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads. Equivalent to a City Manager

Deliberations were touch-and-go as to whether the Port Orange City Council would be without a city manager for another 6 months to a year, but council members ultimately decided Saturday that Michael H. “Jake” Johansson was the right person for the job and extended an offer to negotiate a contract with the military veteran. “I feel ecstatic,” Johansson, a former commanding officer at a naval facility, said in a phone interview after a special meeting where four finalists were interviewed.
Early in the Saturday discussion, it looked as if the city was headed for yet another round of applications, interviews and processes guided by consulting firm The Mercer Group, led by W.D. Higginbotham, the firm’s vice president. And Councilman Bob Ford, who represents District 1, about one hour into the deliberation process, had his head in his hands, pleading with his colleagues to make a decision.
Citing the law of diminishing returns (which states that at some point, benefits gained become less than the time, energy or money invested), Ford stressed that the stellar cast and quality of candidates the city has been presented with by Higginbotham and his team can only be lessened by time.
By the end of the session, the rest of the council agreed that the citizens of Port Orange shouldn’t have to wait for another year — and possibly longer — for a permanent manager.
“If we’re really going to make a statement about stability,” Councilman Drew Bastian said, “then now would be a good time to start.”

Barrow County almost lost their county manager… almost.
Randy Dowling, who came to work for Barrow County in November 2013, applied for a job with Port Orange, Fla. at the end of May. He was named to the final four that was considered for the job that pays $140,000 to $150,000 a year. Currently Dowling makes about $110,000, according to his resume and job application.
However, Saturday evening the city of Port Orange picked their new city manager and it was not Dowling. Michael H. Johansson, a former city manager (commanding officer) of U.S. Naval Support Activity in Hampton Roads, Va. was picked for the position.
As of press time, Dowling had not responded to a request for comment.
Last month the Port Orange City Council narrowed the list of 89 candidates down to four, with help from Georgia-based consulting firm, The Mercer Group. They almost decided to skip the four candidates that they had picked, including Dowling, and head for another search but at the last minute decided to pick Johansson, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
“I don’t really see a single candidate that brings to the table what I’m looking for,” District 4 Councilman Scott Stiltner told the News-Journal last month.
The open position of Port Orange City Manager comes on the heels of controversy where the former city manager, Greg Kisela, along with five of his other main city officials, resigned after a $411,510 water-meter issue and many upset citizens. Before that, former manager Ken Parker retired after 28 years due to mistakes by the accounting department that cost the city about $1.28 million in lost revenue.
According to Dowling’s cover letter, he has experience with working in the Sunshine State. He previously worked with Indian River County and was Assistant to the City Manager in Homestead.
Port Orange is a town on the Atlantic coast of Florida just below Daytona Beach.
Source: Update: Dowling not picked to become city manager of Florida town

9 thoughts on “Michael H. Johansson, U.S.Navy Captain, Picked as Port Orange New City Manager

  • July 13, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Mr. Johansson was voted down by a 3-2 vote on the initial vote by Council members.
    So now he has their full confidence with a 5-0 vote ? I hope this all works out well but am very skeptical in the long run. It seems they merely “settled” on a candidate to fill the position.

  • July 13, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Bob Ford is way out on a limb on this one. You are right CC the 5-0 show of confidence was all window dressing just like most everything else in City Hall. The majority of Council had real concerns with this guy and they were bamboozled with Ford’s superior intellect. Let’s hope they don’t come to regret their decision.

  • July 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I wish people would not say things they are not willing to attach their names to. (their is a place for anonymous but it is abused)
    The gentleman met every criteria in the job offering approved by council, if they were looking for something else it was not listed to be included in the advertisement. I am pleased with the choice he is not a ICMA hack although not a private sector CEO not a municipal retread. For those that say he has no experience in government, I hope you are not the same that was wanting a private sector person. For those wanting to privatize out his base command employee a large majority of civilian workers that did not take military orders including the police and fire.
    We have a Manager! He looks like a strong leader that will bring fresh eyes and ideas, the we have been looking for. If you want him to fail, just keep trying to tear him apart before he gets started. If you want him to succeed be constructive and give him your support and concern in the voice of polite terms for a few months. Then if things are not moving I will be at the front of the line asking questions. Till then lets share our concerns and see if they are answered.
    Remember the last manager quit before the ICMA 2 year custom min. and was everybody’s first round pick.
    NEWTON WHITE is that clear enough onlooker2

  • July 13, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Well said Newt.
    I am pleased the arguments made by the Citizens for a Better Port Orange prevailed in this instance AND the search firm forwarded the resume of an accomplished individual fully capable of managing Port Orange who has not spent his career paying homage to the excuse ridden ICMA.
    I am even more pleased Council heeded those same arguments and selected Jake Johansson to be the next Manager of Port Orange.
    The ball is in Council’s court and the question now becomes whether they have the ability to effectively employ such a individual who I would expect has a pretty low tolerance for bulls#it.
    Ted Noftall
    Candidate for Mayor
    City of Port Orange -2016

    • July 14, 2015 at 7:24 am

      Check his application He is a card carrying member of the ICMA.

      • July 14, 2015 at 8:44 am

        Yes, if you look a little more closely you will see he joined only recently, about the time he knew he would be ending his military service and moving into civilian work. I would join the leading trade organization if I were looking for a job in that profession, just to get my foot in the door and be seen. You people that post crap without a name or face are beginning to annoy me.

        • July 14, 2015 at 11:50 am

          Some of the people that post anonymously on here are city employees. With all the things that have gone on inside the city you should be able to understand their skepticism and reluctance to divulge their identities. Remember they have revealed a lot of good inside information on here and most of the time it comes to fruition.
          I have worked under former military leaders and found them to be the best leaders I have ever worked with. I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from them. He will have a bit of a learning curve ahead of him in the regulatory and political areas But if he holds fast to his training and experience he could work out well. Council as a group need to set him straight publicly right from the beginning as to who is his boss and who he works for. (not the mayor).
          If he listens to the front line employees and not just what is termed in the military as “chicken shit” management and the citizens he should get a pretty good idea of what he’s dealing with. Once he does his Recon he will be able to start developing his strategy. Strategic thinking, planning and communications is used in government, business and military to develop and reach goals and objectives. First you have to establish your objectives (where do you want to ultimately be within a certain time frame). Than you set your goals (These are the steps you take to reach your objectives). You also need contingencies (To be able to adapt to and overcome changes in the landscape) These things will require strategic communication between citizens, employees, council and the manager.
          With his years of military experience, training and leadership he should be capable. Don’t expect everything to be fixed overnight. With all that’s wrong it’s going to take time but the results of true effort should start to show sooner than later.
          That is all

  • July 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    YES! Some of the people that post anonymously on here are city employees. I understand and think that anonymity should be allowed for the reasons Woodman stated. However, others are abusing the ability by throwing insults and false or misleading incomplete statements, with no apparent intention or purpose other than to froth up the water. (no pun intended for the utility folks) If you have a fact to post fine nobody needs to know as long as it is correct. If you want to dispute, argue, or insult put your name on it and face up.

    • July 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      I agree Newton. I have had my share of insults, name calling and accusations thrown my way. Sticks and stones. Some folks get off on stirring the pot. What can you do?


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