Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney is tackling a dilemma many coaches face after a winning season.
Two months after the biggest political victory of his career, star members of the mayor's City Hall team are leaving, creating voids at a time when city agencies are facing historically large tasks.
The resignation Thursday of Susan Wiles, his chief of staff, represents the third vacancy in six weeks on a staff that will ride herd on ambitious initiatives from land preservation and government efficiency to the far-reaching construction list in the $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan.
Now Delaney must find ways to deliver on those initiatives without the key aides who helped him get to this point.
"Lesson No. 1 is, you can't shut this government down. No matter who comes and goes," Delaney said Friday, adding that he would outline some changes in staff and assignments tomorrow.
Besides a new staff chief, Delaney needs permanent replacements for Chief Administrative Officer Lex Hester, who died last month, and Michael Munz, an aide and political adviser taking a job with an advertising agency. Delaney said he's worried more top appointees will leave, drawn by jobs outside government that pay better or have easier hours.
Wiles said she is considering several job offers.
A likely candidate to fill Wiles' city job is Audrey McKibbin Moran, a friend who in September became managing director and special counsel of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.
Moran is a former prosecutor who, like Delaney, moved to City Hall when former State Attorney Ed Austin was elected mayor in 1991. She was Austin's liaison to the City Council for nine months before entering private law practice. She was a board member of the Downtown Development Authority for several years before taking the JEDC job.
Delaney said he expected to draw on advice from both Wiles and Munz for some time to come. For example, Wiles has headed Delaney's Preservation Project, a $362 million park and land-acquisition campaign, and Delaney said he hopes she will remain involved in that in some way.
The mayor's term in office runs through the summer of 2003. But even with 2 1/2 years left, the candidate search is likely to focus on people with established ties to the Mayor's Office.
"This is one of those mid-course corrections where I don't think you'll see any new faces," said City Councilman Jim Overton. …