(left) Jeff Peters, interim City Manager, Dale Martin (center), and Matthew W. Coppler (right) - Images via City of Fort Walton Beach, City of Fernandina Beach, and City of St. Clair Shores.

‘Meet and Greet’ for Fort Walton Beach City Manager Candidates scheduled for March 15, 2023

(left) Jeff Peters, interim City Manager, Dale Martin (center), and Matthew W. Coppler (right) - Images via City of Fort Walton Beach, City of Fernandina Beach, and City of St. Clair Shores.

The public is invited to attend the Fort Walton Beach City Manager Candidate Meet and Greet on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 6:00 pm at the Recreation Center located at 132 Jet Drive NW.

  • This event will give community members the chance to meet the top three candidates vying for the City Manager position.

The search for a new City Manager commenced following Michael Beedie’s resignation in November, with Jeff Peters stepping in as interim City Manager.

According to the City’s Charter, a permanent City Manager must be installed within 180 days after the office becomes vacant. The City Council chose executive recruitment firm Colin Baenziger & Associates, in collaboration with the City’s human resources department, to conduct the recruitment search. The list of candidates was narrowed down to eight, including Jeff Peters.

At a special council meeting on March 7, 2023, the top three candidates were selected:

  • Jeff Peters
  • Dale Martin
  • Matt Coppler

Costs associated with the candidates’ visit, including hotel, airfare, food, transportation, and the recreation facility, are estimated to be between $3,500 and $4,500.

Here’s a brief overview of the top candidates:

Jeff Peters

A lifelong resident of Fort Walton Beach, Jeff Peters has been with the City for 17 years, starting as Recreation Director in 2006. Peters has been involved in numerous projects, including the Landing Renovation, Preston Hood Athletic Complex Addition, Brooks Bridge/Around the Mound, Heritage Park and Cultural Center Addition, Cemetery Administration Building, and City Hall. He prides himself on forming strong relationships with local organizations, City staff, and community members.

Dale L. Martin

Dale Martin served as the City Manager of Fernandina Beach, Florida, from December 2015 to February 2023. Located on Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is a coastal resort community with a population of 13,500. Martin oversaw city services, including water, wastewater, stormwater utilities, police and fire protection, marina, airport, golf course, and parks. He managed 230 full-time and 150 part-time/seasonal employees, with an annual budget of approximately $196 million.

Matthew W. Coppler

From 2019 to April 2022, Matthew Coppler served as City Manager for St. Clair Shores, Michigan, a resort community of 60,000 located in the Detroit Metro area. Among his accomplishments, Coppler initiated modernization of the city’s IT infrastructure, worked with the Mayor and City Council on prioritizing ARPA-funded projects, and negotiated collective bargaining agreements with three uniformed bargaining units.

The Meet and Greet event will provide an opportunity for Fort Walton Beach residents and council members to engage with the candidates and gain a better understanding of their qualifications and vision for the City.

The City Manager selection will be made at the City Council Regular Meeting on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at 6:00 pm.

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