Just a month after ditching his commitment to become Wichita’s next city manager without any real explanation why, Pat Salerno has re-emerged. He’s a city manager candidate in Deltona, Fla., according to a report in today’s Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Salerno, just one of 56 applicants vying for the Deltona job, is familiar with the area. From 1980 to 1985, he was assistant manager of Volusia County, which includes Deltona. And, most recently, he spent 18 years as city manager of Sunrise, Fla., a Fort Lauderdale suburb about 250 miles south of Deltona. He was forced out of that gig in January. In May, he was announced as the only guy to get an interview for Wichita’s top post. And he so impressed city council members here that they offered him the job for $215,000 a year, the biggest salary in city history. He took it, signed the papers and called the mayor a week before he was supposed to start and said he just didn’t feel right about the job. He did not respond to about a dozen calls to his cell phone from The Eagle (or apparently anyone else from Wichita) in the weeks following, and he has not offered any public explanation for why he backed out.
Only time will tell if Deltona is a better fit. The News-Journal reports that a search committee will start to trim the list of applicants today and that interviews may start in late September. Deltona’s mayor couldn’t be reached immediately this morning to comment on what impact, if any, Salerno’s history with Wichita would have as their city whittles down its list of candidates.
Deltona is different than Wichita is many respects. Its population is 84,000; Wichita’s is 358,000. Deltona is a planned retirement community and home to one of Florida’s largest sinkholes. Wichita, well, we’re sort of a mix of industry, agriculture and university on the south side of a state many compare to a pancake. Deltona’s modern history dates back to about 1962, when the planned community was first laid out. Wichita has its cowtown and Native American roots. Both cities got to know, however briefly, Pat Salerno.