Niceville’s city manager search committee has narrowed its nationwide search down to two local candidates, Mayor Daniel Henkel announced at Niceville’s May city council meeting. The two candidates are retiring Air Force Colonel David Deitch and Mrs. Kristen Shell – the deputy planning director for the Walton County Board of County Commissioners.
Current city manager Lannie Corbin will retire August 1 after more than 50 years on the job. He announced his retirement at the January meeting of the Niceville City Council.
The search started with dozens of candidates from around the country and was conducted by a committee that included citizens, appointed and elected government officials.
So, who are the two candidates for Niceville City Manager?
Colonel David Deitch serves as General Counsel for the Air Force’s 96th test wing, based at Eglin Air Force Base. He describes himself as a “results-oriented general counsel with over two decades of proven leadership and management expertise.” In addition to his legal expertise – Deitch says he has “comprehensive skills in logistics, human resources, operations and financial management.” He has served as the General Counsel for Eglin Air Force Base since July 2021.
Before Eglin served in several general counsel and deputy general counsel positions at Joint Base San Antonio, Keesler Air Force Base (Mississippi), Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Virginia), Camp H.M. Smith (Hawai’i), and at Kunsan Air Base (Korea).
Deitch graduated from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1999 with a degree in Political Science and administration of Justice and a Law Degree from Stetson College in 2002.
He is licensed in Texas and Florida to practice law.
Kristen Shell is Deputy Planning Director for the Walton County Board of County Commissioners. In her role, she “managaes the county’s long-range and current planning functions, including the supervision of planning and development staff,” according to her LinkedIn bio. She has over 20 years of planning experience in the Florida Panhandle and master’s degree-level training in city planning and civil engineering.
She has worked for the Walton County Board of County Commissioners, first as an environmental planner and then as the deputy planning director for seven years. Before she worked in Walton County – she worked as a planner for Santa Rosa County and had her own urban planning and consulting business.
Shell holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering (University of Florida), Business Administration (University of West Florida) and Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University.
Mayor Henkel did not specify when the decision would be made.
The council would have to vote to appoint the city manager. Likely, this would take place at the Niceville City Council’s June meeting – as Mayor Henkel has expressed the desire to have at least a month’s overlap between Corbin and the new city manager.