The city manager for Southwest Florida’s largest city is out after scoring only slightly above average on the yearly evaluation. Cape Coral City Council voted against extending Rob Hernandez’s contract on Wednesday.
Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter wanted someone exceptional for the city manager role. After Hernandez received a 3.8 out of 5 during his yearly evaluation last year, the mayor started to have doubts Hernandez wasn’t the right man for the job.
During a special meeting called by Gunter on Wednesday, council members voted 5-3 against renewing Hernandez’s contract.
“I’m wanting to make sure that our city’s exceptional, and it all starts at the top and trickles down from there. So that’s that was my personal belief that we want to make sure that we have an exceptional person. And that’s why I made the decision that I did,” said Gunter.
Hernandez took over the city manager role back in 2020. He signed a three-year deal with a starting salary of almost $240,000. The contract was set to expire on August 12 and required a minimum of six months’ notice of non-renewal.
Councilman Tom Hayden, one of the three votes to keep Hernandez, said he was disappointed to see the outcome. “It was a surprise to me, mainly because what was shared was, they were unsubstantiated allegations, you know, to me, most of them were baseless facts. And there really wasn’t enough there for me for to justify him losing his job.”
The decision comes just months after Hernandez was given a 6.25% raise after a yearly evaluation. It happened in November when the council gave him a 3.8 out of 5.
“He was meeting his expectations, exceeding some. He knew there were things that he had to work on, and he was prepared to do that before his next evaluation,” Hayden said.
Hernandez won’t get the chance to do that. While it’s still uncertain if he’ll fulfill the rest of his contract, Mayor Gunter hopes he will.
“Council’s decision last night was not to renew the contract, not to terminate. So I think there’s a clear distinction between the two,” said Gunter.
As the search for a new city manager begins, the mayor promises no gaps in leadership will be felt.
WINK News asked the mayor if he had a specific candidate in mind to replace Hernandez. He said no, but there is a plan to do a national search.