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Friday, April 19, 2024

City of Ocala filling third major role after firing Ocala Fire Rescue Chief

The City of Ocala will look to fill its third major role after relieving Ocala Fire Rescue Chief Shane Alexander from his position.

In under a year’s time, the city will fill perhaps its three most pivotal leadership roles in the City Manager, the Ocala Police Department Chief, and now, the Ocala Fire Rescue Chief.

Sandra Wilson Mike Balken New Ocala Fire Rescue Chief
Sandra Wilson, Mike Balken, and the new Ocala Fire Rescue Chief will all be newly hired positions in the last year

In December 2019, then City Manager John Zobler tendered his resignation and the search for his replacement began. Among the candidates were Alexander and the interim City Manager, Sandra Wilson.

After conducting interviews, the candidates were narrowed to Wilson and Alexander, with multiple Ocala City Council members lending their support behind both.

Ultimately, the city delayed its selection of a new city manager until it could fill the District 2 seat vacated by Mary Sue Rich. After a runoff election, Ire Bethea won the seat.

After a large show of public support in favor of hiring Wilson, the Ocala City Council appointed her the new City Manager.

Just a few months after Wilson was appointed, the city was shocked when Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham was killed in a plane accident.

Mike Balken was hired as his replacement in November.

Now, the city will look to fill a role that was held by Alexander for just under three years.

The next fire chief will become the third person to hold the position in the past years. Alexander took the role in 2018 after former chief Bradd Clark resigned.