Letter to the Editor - Betty Sime Conroy

Almost 30 years ago, we residents came together to establish our Village. We strove for a Key Biscayne founded on excellence and professionalism, which was elusive in the rest of Miami-Dade County.

As the Vice Chair of the original Charter Committee, I remember serious deliberations on the form of government that best suited the future needs of our residents. We chose a council-manager form of government, with the manager as the chief administrative officer, and our mayor and council serving as part time volunteers without compensation. We wanted to break away from the cronyism and small-minded politics that was prevalent in our neighboring communities.

I was part of the committee that established best practices and conducted the national search that resulted in hiring first Village Manager Sam Kissinger. Mr. Kissinger, our longest serving manager, was an “outsider” and a professionally trained manager who created the foundation for our village government and set the bar for a village manager. After 11 years of service, Kissinger was pushed out by a small group of residents who wanted an administrator who was an insider, less formal, and “friendlier” to their points of view.

Kissinger recently passed away and we had a chance to reflect on his impact on our village. Mayor Mike Davey commented, “Sam got us going. A lot of the processes we use today were put in place by Sam.” Mayor Davey was right. Had we not chosen a strong, competent manager like Sam Kissinger we would have a very different legacy.

Unfortunately, after Kissinger’s departure we had a string of well-intentioned but less-effective managers. We have experienced first-hand how detrimental it is to hire under-qualified but well-liked “insiders” to run our village. Moreover, this has caused strain and conflict within our village council and staff as they have attempted to fill the void of leadership created by past weak managers.

The village recently changed the trend in hiring Village Manager Andrea Agha. The council conducted an exhaustive, nation-wide search and selected a manager who, like Sam Kissinger, has the skills, experience, credentials, and education to properly manage our village.

It is time to reprioritize good, responsive, professional governance. I urge this community to put their faith in our new, competent manager and give her the chance to rebuild our government processes and departments to the level needed to run our world-class village.

Betty Sime Conroy

  • Chairman, Pre Incorporation Council. 1987 - 1991
  • Member of the 1991 Key Biscayne Board of Trustees
  • Member of the Village Council 1992-1998
  • Chair, Charter Revision Commission 1997
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