There was shock and awe at Deltona City Hall, as a new rift in leadership surfaced. Another attempt to fire Deltona City Manager Jane Shang has failed, but this time it was supported by Deltona’s mayor.
For the second time in less than a year, Shang remains chief executive officer of the Deltona city government, despite opposition from some of her bosses.
The bombshell came just before the City Commission was set to adjourn Jan. 21, when two members who had previously steadfastly supported Shang voted to dismiss her.
“I make a motion to terminate Jane Shang,” Mayor Heidi Herzberg said unexpectedly, capping a litany of complaints against the city manager.
Herzberg’s motion was supported by a 4-3 vote, but Deltona’s charter requires a supermajority to fire the manager — at least five of the seven members of the City Commission must vote yes.
In the run up to her motion to fire Shang, Herzberg told her colleagues she had experienced “sleepless nights” and “soul-searching” over reports of low morale among city employees and the departure of some longtime personnel.
The mayor was previously one of Shang’s supporters, siding with her last summer amid calls from fellow commissioners and residents for Shang to be sacked for violating state election laws.
Following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Shang entered Into a pretrial agreement with the State Attorney’s Office after illegally voting in a district where she did not reside, and for listing Deltona City Hall as her home address on voter records.
The mayor said there is “a toxic atmosphere” in the municipal workplace. She blamed the situation on low pay and reports of “micromanagement” of employees.
“We have had a major turnover in staff,” Commissioner Anita Bradford said, in support of Herzberg’s call to fire Shang.
Commissioner Loren King also aligned with Herzberg.
The new majority against Shang also includes Vice Mayor Victor Ramos, who said he had not been informed about details of economic-development initiatives, including the decision by Amazon to build a warehouse and trucking center along North Normandy Boulevard.
“Not sharing information has to change,” Herzberg said.
After the vote failed to topple Shang, Herzberg offered an alternative: a motion of “no confidence in the city manager.”
That motion resulted in an identical split vote: Herzberg, Ramos, Bradford and King voted “no confidence,” while Commissioners Maritza Avila-Vazquez, Robert McFall and Chris Nabicht declined to support the motion.
Shang left the chambers without commenting on the commission’s actions. Reached by phone the next day, she asked for “the time and space to reflect.”
The latest effort to fire Shang comes amid positive developments in the city, including the decision by Amazon to build a distribution center and create at least 500 higher-paying jobs; the imminent opening of Halifax Health, Deltona’s first hospital; and continuing efforts to build upon those economic-development successes and bring additional businesses and employers to the city.
Not least, for Shang personally, the call for her termination came after the Deltona Martin Luther King Day Celebration Committee honored her with its Change Maker award at the group’s annual breakfast Saturday, June 18, at The Center at Deltona.
“It’s the first one. It’s the inaugural one,” Mike Williams, the committee’s chair, said, regarding the award. “She’s made some good changes in the city.”
Williams was not happy about the abortive attempt to fire Shang.
“I feel terrible,” Herzberg said afterward. “I value our staff. You have to take your rose-colored glasses off and look at what’s happening.”
Shang has been Deltona’s city manager since 2015.