Madeira Beach has a new city manager, and like the city he's going to work for, he is no stranger to controversy.

  • Jonathan Evans worked previously in Largo, Haines City
  • Fired as Riviera Beach city manager in 2017
  • Will start new role at end of February

Jonathan Evans is no stranger to city government. Previously, he's worked in Largo and Haines City, but it was his last job that had him in the headlines.

Evans was fired as the city manager of Riviera Beach after working there for six months in 2017. The city council member who called for his firing cited misfeasance, but once Evans was actually fired, city leaders couldn’t give a real reason why they fired him.

A city memo recorded that Evans was fired without cause.

“I’ve grown a lot from that situation, and I think I’m a better administrator having going through that turmoil and that situation,” Evans said. “I just went there with the purest intentions to do the best job I possibly can and let the work do the talking, and that’s my same intent here.”

Similar circumstances

Last year in Madeira Beach, former city manager Shane Crawford was fired in a similar fashion at a commission meeting. The firing sparked controversy and had some residents asking for new leadership.

Knowing the city’s past, Evans said he’s optimistic and up for the challenge.

"It would mean more to me, and I think it would mean more to any seasoned administrator, to go into a situation where some folks may walk away from," Evans explained. "I’m excited about the challenge, I’m encouraged about the challenge, I know there’s a lot of work ahead. I did watch what happened to the previous administrator and that doesn’t concern me, because my situation and that person’s situation is profoundly different.”

So who is Jonathan Evans and what are his plans for Madeira Beach?

“What I want us to do is focus on the public’s business, working together cohesively as a community and moving the public’s work forward, and my hope is we can unify as a city and we can accomplish some great things,” Evans said. “If you look at the word "community" it’s "common" and "unity." There is that common ground, and any and all conflicts we as an agency and as a community have to find that. Us squabbling and fighting back and forth doesn’t resolve anything.”

Evans said he plans to get to know the community and bring them together while doing the business of the city.

“I encourage people to stop by city hall, and I will go in living rooms," Evans said. "I will talk to people in parks, I will ask you to approach me in grocery stores. As a public servant I certainly want to be accessible to the public."

Evans is set to start in his new role as city manager at the end of the month. He says he’s hired an attorney to clear his name in connection with the Rivera Beach firing.