by James Melican, President Emeritus and GSAC Board Member
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On May 2, Jay Boodheshwar was sworn into office as the new Naples City Manager. He arrives with stellar credentials, having worked most recently for the Town of Palm Beach. Since his arrival there in 2006 he has held positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately becoming Deputy Town Manager in 2015.
He has already identified his most important short-term objectives. Given his extensive background in city government, it should come as no surprise that he has some very definite ideas about what he wants to accomplish in what he describes as his “first one hundred days.”
His focus, he says, would be partly internal and partly external. On the first point, he is acutely aware that the team he has inherited has recently lost several high-level people, and that there are significant staff shortages in multiple departments. In addition to addressing that issue on a priority basis, he intends to “evolve the team.” He knows from experience how he wants to select and organize his staff. With regards to staff shortages in the Police Department, he is well aware that ensuring public safety is of paramount concern to the residents of Naples. Having a fully-staffed police force will enable the Department to resume activities, such as regular patrolling, that it was forced to curtail because of personnel shortages.
On the external side, Jay said that experience has taught him that one cannot lead a community without knowing that community. Over the next few months he will devote a good deal of time to personally reaching out to all segments of the Greater Naples community. His premise is that the people living here – – both the most vocal and those less so – – are all trying to do what they view as being in the best interests of the City.
He describes his personal style as open, collegial and collaborative, and he emphasized that he wants to hear directly from the residents of the City, especially now as he moves up the learning curve.
In addition to the major projects going on in the City that he wants to help bring to near-term fruition, he intends to build a relationship with Collier County officials, since so many of the County’s policies directly affect Naples residents.
That sounds like more than enough to fully occupy him over his first 100 days. It was evident from our discussion that, before accepting the position, Jay had done his homework and has a good grasp of the immediate challenges he will face. He realizes that he is the fourth person to occupy the City Manager position in the past year (two having served on an interim basis). His desire, however, is to serve Naples and its residents, visitors and businesses for a long time to come and leave a lasting legacy.
The GSAC community wishes him a long and successful career here, and assures him that GSAC as an organization will assist him in any way we can.