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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 14, 200112:00 PM EST

Round two

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JEDC has a new list for executive director job
by: Mike Sharkey

The candidates

Randy Cardoza, Conyers, Ga.

Stephen Dragos, Baskingridge, N.J.

Don Maxwell, Virginia Beach. Va.

Margaret Mullen, Phoenix

Jacksonville Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Weinstein has been trying to get out of his job for months now. As the president of Jacksonville’s Super Bowl Host Committee, Weinstein was planning to take over his new job around the end of July.

After a failed first attempt to find his successor, he’s still on the job.

But, that won’t last much longer. In a meeting late last month Weinstein informed the task force formed to find his replacement that regardless who they chose or how long the search took, he would take over as president of the Host Committee no later than Oct. 1.

Wednesday, Mayor John Delaney’s chief of staff Audrey Moran, a member of the task force, said a new list of names has been submitted for consideration.

“We have candidates coming in on the 25th [of September] for interviews on the 26th,” said Moran. “Joan Jorgenson has given us a new slate of names and we will interview all of them.”

The new list includes Randy Cardoza of Conyers, Ga.; Stephen Dragos of Baskingridge, N.J.; Don Maxwell of Virginia Beach. Va., and Margaret Mullen of Phoenix .

Although the candidates look good on paper, not all of them are sure Jacksonville would be a good choice. Cardoza, for one, isn’t sure he will interview for the job.

“I have decisions to make by tomorrow [Friday],” he said. “I’m not certain if I’m a candidate. I’ve not fully made up my mind. I’d rather not discuss it right now.”

The Facility Group, based in the Atlanta suburb of Conyers, is a private company and Cardoza is its vice president/real estate services.

Mullen is the president and CEO of Urban Realty Partners, LLC of Phoenix. She said Jacksonville reminds her of Phoenix during the early 1990s.

“On paper, Jacksonville looks like an incredible opportunity,” said Mullen. “It looks like Phoenix did about 12 years ago. Phoenix was a city with about 800,000 people and great elected leadership.”

Mullen says she will interview for Weinstein’s job, but is not willing to say she’s interested in the job without seeing Jacksonville.

As CEO of Urban Realty Partners, a position she has held since leaving the Downtown Phoenix Partnership in 1998, Mullen builds office parks and similar projects. However, she does some outside consulting for cities that are renovating their downtowns.

“I was in Los Angeles Tuesday finishing their master plan,” said Mullen. “I have done a lot in California in both the public and private sector and I’ve done consulting work for the cities of Reno, Tampa and Birmingham, England.”

Neither Dragos nor Maxwell could be reached for comment.

The committee is using the same consulting firm — Joan Jorgenson, Inc. — that they used for the first search, which started shortly after Weinstein was introduced as the president of the Host Committee in January by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver. As president, Weinstein will oversee everything associated with the 2005 Super Bowl, from the cruise ships coming to town to the events that will take place the week of the game.

Moran, who is joined on the task force by Weinstein, JEDC chairman Fred Newbill, Downtown Development Authority senior director Paul Krutko, JEDC commissioner Carol Thompson and former JEDC chairman Leerie Jenkins, said she is happy with the new list of potential candidates and they will all be given equal consideration.

With time a factor, one of the decisions the task force will have to make is how to handle the second round of the second search. Ultimately, Delaney will personally interview the finalists for the job and the final selection must meet his approval. But how many candidates should make it to that stage?

“We don’t have a preconceived game plan,” said Moran, adding she thinks more than one candidate will sit down with the mayor even if one stands head and shoulders above the rest. “We will pick one or more that we think the mayor should interview personally. But, it’s all going to happen pretty quickly.”

Moran conceded that even under a best-case scenario — one in which Weinstein’s successor comes from the current list of four names — the job probably won’t be filled until at least Nov. 1. In addition to having to be approved by Delaney, whoever is chosen must also give proper notice to the job they are leaving and make relocation arrangements.

That said, it appears the task force will have to stick to its decision to fill the job on a temporary basis — from Oct. 1 until Weinstein’s successor officially takes over — with someone local. While there is some speculation the job would go to someone within the JEDC on an interim basis, Moran would neither confirm or deny the talk.

“The job will go to someone within the City,” said Moran.

Jenkins said it was not up to the task force to determine who gets the job temporarily.

“That’s totally up to the mayor,” said Jenkins. “That doesn’t involve us.”

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