CRESTVIEW — The city's first manager has been selected from a small pool of highly qualified applicants.

Timothy Bolduc, a Navarre resident who is the public works director for the city of Fort Walton Beach, received the majority vote from Crestview City Council members Monday night.

Contract negotiations start this week.

"He's just up to date on everything," said Mayor David Cadle, who observed the interviews and subsequent vote. "I think that was the crucial factor. Mr. Bolduc will not be coming in here to fill the shoes of the past city manager. He has to come in to build his office from scratch. It's going to be a demanding job."

It's one that Bolduc, who has lived in the area since 1979, says he is ready to take on.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Very excited."

He said the competition was stiff, but that he believed himself to be the best candidate based on his local experience.

Councilman J.B. Whitten, who is also the incoming mayor, and Bill Cox voted against his appointment. Bolduc said it was his understanding that they favored the other final candidate, who has actual experience as a city manager.

He said he has spoken to Whitten several times since Monday night's decision and that they are on the same page.

His initial focus will be to work with the council to develop a strategy for where Crestview wants to go and what it wants to be as a city. Unlike Fort Walton Beach, Crestview has lots of available land and easy access to Interstate 10.

"It's important that we identify who we want to be," Bolduc said. "I've been asked 100 different times, 'Where do you think we're going as a city?' "

He said the answer can only be discovered after city officials determine where they want to go.

Bolduc, who is married with two children, said his family will move to Crestview.

Fort Walton Beach City Manager Michael Beedie said he was happy for Bolduc and proud of him for advancing his career. 

"The Crestview City Council made an excellent choice and their community will benefit greatly from Tim’s leadership," he said in an email. "Tim’s knowledge of our community, the Public Works Department and municipal government in general has been an asset for Fort Walton Beach for many years. His shoes will be hard to fill."

Nitsi Bennett, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity-Okaloosa, said the council made an excellent choice by hiring Bolduc. 

"Some of the first things that Crestview will find out about Tim, is his love of his church and God, his love for his family, and his dedication to the community he serves," she said. "Tim has volunteered not only with Habitat but has helped us find land for our homes.

"Don't be surprised to see him on his hands and knees picking out weeds in one of our city's gardens, or at some fundraiser or at an event."

In the last general election, voters approved amendments to change the city charter to a council-manager form of government instead of a council-mayor form. This change in government shifted the day-to-day operations of the city to one person’s responsibility instead of five, with city department heads answering to the city manager.

The move is supposed to free up the mayor and council to focus more on representing their citizens, according to the charter.