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Ocala city manager holds onto job after controversial firing of fire chief

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Union president Richard Grubbs defended the fired Ocala fire chief. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Ocala City Manager Sandra Wilson held onto her job by a single vote Tuesday night, days after she fired the fire chief.

More than 20 residents spoke in support of Wilson or the former chief.

The city manager fired Shane Alexander after reports that he was campaigning to replace city councilmen and secure the top job for himself. Four of the five council seats are up for election in September.

His lawyer called the allegations unfounded and the firing “a profound mistake for the city of Ocala.”

Ocala City Manager Sandra Wilson, far right, held onto her job despite opposition from the mayor and two council members. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Fire union president Richard Grubbs and others praised Alexander.

“A hundred and forty guys in the fire department love this guy,” he said. “They respect this guy and they want to work with this guy.”

Councilmen Justin Grabelle and Matthew Wardell wanted Wilson to go.

But Jay Musleh and the others stood with her.

“What’s happened the last week,” Musleh said, “has broken my heart because I hate to see it. But at the end of the day, I am going to support our city manager.”

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.