Natalie Kahler, executive director of Brooksville Main Street (BMS), has announced that she will resign that post effective Oct. 15. Her resignation comes on the heels of the Brooksville City Council’s appointment of Charlene Kuhn as Brooksville’s new city manager. Kahler had been a finalist candidate for that position and had gone on record saying that she would have resigned her BMS post if she was appointed to assume the city manager position
In a surprise decision during its Sept. 18 regular meeting, the Brooksville City Council voted unanimously to name Charlene Kuhn city manager for the City of Brooksville. Kuhn, who had previously served as procurement and special projects manager and public information officer, was appointed interim city manager on Aug. 15 following the retirement of Ron Snowberger.
She was appointed to permanently fill the post after Council Member Thomas Bronson made a motion to suspend the council’s previously approved selection process and approve Kuhn’s appointment. In response, the remainder of the council unanimously agreed.
Reaction to the appointment began almost immediately on Natalie Kahler’s personal Facebook page, where supporters lamented her announcement that she would resign from her leadership position at BMS.
Also, an email sent to the Hernando Sun from Sonny Vergara of the Voices of Brooksville page questioned the future of BMS under Kuhn’s tenure as city manager and after the loss of Kahler as executive director of BMS.
“What’s going to be the reaction of the business community and the BMS volunteer army to the loss of unarguably the most effective local leader (Kahler) who has marshaled more positive economic development for the city over the last two or three years than the city has had in the last two decades?” Vergara asked in the email. “Will they rally and support her (Kahler) for all she has accomplished for the city and stay the course on behalf of the city’s future going forward despite what has happened and no matter what comes next? Or, is Brooksville Main Street going to be allowed to drift back into the totally unproductive negative atmosphere city managers and Councils of the past have generated toward it?”
Prior to that, in a Sept. 19 email to the Boards of Directors of Brooksville Main Street (BMS) and the Brooksville Vision Foundation (BVF), both non-profits focused on the city’s economic development, Kahler said that the “City Council decided to bypass interviews and hired a City Manager who has been routinely oppositional to BMS.”
“The last few weeks while serving as interim, Kuhn has shown clearly what our future relationship will look like,” Kahler’s email continued. “There is no need to get into details; suffice it to say she made it clear she (Kuhn) has no time for our partnership and intends to place as many roadblocks as possible in our way.”
“As City Manager, I value our partners at Brooksville Main Street and look forward to working with the City Council to find even more ways to work together,” she said in an email to the Hernando Sun. “Brooksville Main Street is the heart of our City, as seen in the passion of the multitude of volunteers that donate hours of their time to enhance Brooksville. I will continue the strong relationship the City has forged with Brooksville Main Street.”
Kahler’s email went on to say that her resignation had nothing to do with the council’s decision to appoint someone other than her to the city manager post.
“My resignation is not because Council didn’t hire me,” Kahler said in the email. “I made it clear from the beginning that while I thought I would do an excellent job, I wanted them to hire the best person for this moment in time. I was ‘okay’ with that not being me if there was a better option.”
She added, “I have the right to get myself out of the way of the abuse and to not be part of propping up bad leadership.”
Brooksville Mayor Blake Bell said he was surprised that the city’s support for BMS was questioned.
“It’s hard to believe since this council has been the most supportive of BMS than any other Brooksville council has ever been in the past,” Bell said.
Kahler’s email went on to say that she would “at least continue in my position through the Multicultural Festival on October 7.”
In an email, she later told the Hernando Sun that Oct. 14 would be her last day in the BMS post.
Kahler was appointed Executive Director of BMS in 2019. Before that, she served on the Brooksville City Council beginning in 2014 and served as the city’s mayor in 2016.
“I have no idea what is next,” Kahler told the Hernando Sun in an email.