A Shift at the Top

Coral Gables Promotes a New City Manager

October 2018

September marked a major transition for the city leadership, as Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark resigned and was replaced by Assistant City Manager Peter Iglesias.  

Iglesias, who joined the city two years ago as Assistant City Manager for Operations & Infrastructure, has been responsible for a long list of public services and works, including the Streetscape project completed earlier this year. He has a strong background in managing civic and engineering projects; he previously served as Senior Director of Building, Planning and Zoning for the city of Miami, with oversight of IT Integration. 

All of this will serve him well as he takes the helm for running a city with a $195 million annual operating budget, 1,100 full- and part-time employees, and a five-year $220 million capital plan. Among his first challenges will be the construction of a massive new city safety building to house the police and fire department. 

Iglesias has big shoes to fill, namely those of his immediate past boss and mentor, Swanson-Rivenbark, who resigned on Sept. 10 following disputes with the city commission regarding oversight of the Police Department. In this context, her resignation is somewhat ironic, since during her four years as City Manager she directed an increase in the size of the police force and its IT capacity, leading to a sharp drop in crime (residential burglary down 59 percent, and vehicle burglary down 29 percent). 

New City Manager Peter Iglesias examines plans for Public Safety Building

 Also under Swanson- Rivenbark’s tenure, the city’s finances were tightly run – Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and Fitch all gave the city’s bonds AAA ratings, making Coral Gables one of only three cities in Florida to earn that distinction. She enhanced employee benefits, increased city green space, implemented a tree succession plan, upgraded the city’s IT capacities, and strengthened the transparency of the city’s procurement processes. In her previous role as the city’s Development Director, she pushed through deals that created the Village of Merrick Park, restored the Miracle Theater, and established the Art Cinema. 

“I have given full measure to my duties and responsibilities,” Swanson-Rivenbark wrote in her resignation letter, but “It is not my intention to cause further distraction as there is much work to be done in governing this great city.” 

Outgoing City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark between Finance Director Diana M. Gomez and Assistant Finance Director Keith R. Kleiman

As for Iglesias, “I find it a privilege to be the City Manager in the city that I grew up in and where I attended the university,” he told Coral Gables Magazine. As for priorities, he says, those include the large capital improvements of the Public Safety Building, a new fire station and a new parking garage – and “working toward our renewal of the downtown by the incorporation of our successful Streetscape project.” 

Says Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli, “He is experienced, he has been with us several years, and he can be a wonderful city manager.”