As the runoff for the Apalachicola mayor and city commissioner approaches, the question of whether or not to employ a city manager is of paramount importance.

My work over the past 10 years on various projects to improve our community, (e.g. Lafayette Park playground and view clearing, creation of a Children’s Learning Center in the Johnson Complex) has necessitated interface with city government. I have experienced first-hand the contrast between the period before Ron Nalley was hired as city manager and after. As the expression goes “there is no comparison.”

It was immediately evident that Ron as city manager with courage and focus took on a seemingly impossible job. He hit the ground running in dealing with a multitude of critical and chronic problems including the major indebtedness to the state of Florida for water and sewer infrastructure. He demonstrated the ability to take a long and broad view directed toward problem solving with a business approach to applying new and creative solutions. As city manager Ron has stabilized the city’s financial position and significantly improved the financial picture since last year. Of particular note he has restructured the state revolving loan fund payment for water and sewer on a quarterly and more favorable basis.

It has been suggested that volunteers could replace and carry out the role and tasks of the city manager. In my view there is no substitute for a professional city manager. I believe that the city would be in far better financial shape if the value of, and need for, a city manager had been recognized earlier. There is no substitute for a professional and full-time city manager whose work results in savings far beyond the cost of his employment.

Apalachicola is a city where numerous non-profit groups contribute substantially to the quality of life in our community. Supportive and cooperative interface with the city government is essential for the success of these efforts and the betterment of our community. Besides stabilizing the city’s financial status, Ron Nalley has applied business acumen and improved accountability and support for volunteer community efforts with his professional presence as the city manager.

I am hoping that citizens will recognize the importance of a city manager when they register their vote on Oct. 1

Michaelin Reamy Watts