duke sorey

Arthur “Duke” Sorey III has been hired as North Miami Beach’s new city manager, for a term of four years and at an annual salary of $240,000.

His hiring was approved by the North Miami Beach City Commission on April 20, 2021, by a vote of 5-2 with Mayor Anthony “Tony” DeFillipo and Commissioner Barbara Kramer dissenting.

Sorey said he is “humbled” and eager to “go ahead and develop a relationship with my coworkers and definitely with my bosses.”

Asked how he intends to gain the support of the entire city commission, Sorey replied: “The way to win over individuals is just through your work. … I am very confident they will come to know my work ethic and it will go from there.”

DeFillipo said Sorey is very qualified to be the new manager.

“It’s very exciting. We have a new person in town. And I believe in giving everyone a fair chance and an opportunity,” he said.

DeFillipo said his no vote had more to do with Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond’s motion to hire Sorey at such a high salary. Sorey’s predecessor, Horace McHugh – North Miami Beach’s assistant city manager who took on the city manager role in the interim – was making $200,800 a year. The two previous city managers, Esmond Scott and Ana Garcia, were making $200,000 a year. In North Miami, Sorey was making $209,433 a year as deputy city manager.

“We never extended a contract this long and with this high a pay,” DeFillipo said. “There should always be a review period where we can see the performance of the manager and, a year from now, review their performance and do a salary increase.”

But Commissioner Michael Joseph said it was important to show that the city was willing to make as much of an investment in Sorey as Sorey would be making in North Miami Beach.

“If we want the best and brightest, we want to make sure we can compensate on that,” Joseph said.

Sorey, 46, is the son of Arthur “Duke” Sorey Jr., who in 1995 was the first Black American elected as a North Miami councilman. The younger Sorey said he started working at North Miami at age 15 as an attendant at Pepper Park. In 2003, three years after he received a master’s degree in public administration from Florida International University, he became North Miami’s budget analyst. Thereafter, he held positions in the City of North Miami as budget administrator, budget director, and as its community redevelopment agency coordinator prior to his appointment as deputy city manager in July 2015.

But North Miami isn’t the only municipality where Sorey has worked. In 1996 at the age of 19, he was an intern for eight months at the newly incorporated City of Aventura under community services director Bob Sherman.

“He taught me a whole lot at a young age,” Sorey recalled.

In 1997, Sorey interned for a year in Davie under that Broward municipality’s finance director. He then did a nearly three-year stint as an administrative analyst in Hallandale Beach, followed by a program manager job at the American Cancer Society between 2000 and 2003.

Sorey is coming into a politically charged environment with a new majority pushing for change. In January, that majority voted 4-3 to replace the law firm of Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman P.L. with Ottinot Law P.A. as city attorney, and nearly fired its city manager, Esmond Scott.

When Scott resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, Joseph immediately pushed for Sorey as his replacement. Instead, the commission opted to name McHugh as interim manager and embarked on a national search; 65 people applied. By April 20, there were three finalists: Sorey, McHugh and Ricardo Mendez-Saldivia, assistant city administrator for West Palm Beach.

Joseph said he pushed for Sorey’s hiring due to his long history in Northeast Miami-Dade.

“He is a local son does good,” Joseph said, and later added that Sorey will “increase transparency” in North Miami Beach’s city government and enhance “the quality of life for all [who live here].”

During the April 20 meeting, Fleurimond expressed the hope that Sorey would be able to do a “deep dive on the city’s finances.”

“We are leaking so much money that our residents don’t even see it,” he said. “We need to stop that and get ourselves to a position where we can make up the difference.”

Sorey said his top priority is getting a handle on the city’s water plant and sanitation department. Both were essentially privatized under the leadership of former Mayor George Vallejo prior to his arrest for campaign violations in 2018. Last August, the city retook management of its water plant, which also serves homes and businesses in Miami Gardens, Aventura, Sunny Isles Beach, Golden Beach and several unincorporated northeast Miami-Dade neighborhoods. The city is also considering alternatives to its expensive contract with Waste Management, including bringing back its in-house sanitation department.