TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Thursday promoted a veteran city administrator to be his chief of staff and named a St. Petersburg investment banker as the city's new chief financial officer.
The new chief of staff is Santiago Corrada, who in his seven years with the city has served as administrator for neighborhood services, the convention center, tourism, recreation and cultural arts.
Corrada, 47, also leads the city's efforts to plan for the 2012 Republican National Convention. His salary will be $153,004. He replaces Darrell Smith, who retired when former Mayor Pam Iorio left office. Corrada's nomination is scheduled to go to the City Council for confirmation on May 5.
A graduate of the University of Miami, Corrada was director of parks and recreation for the city of Miami before coming to Tampa in 2004. He started his career as an elementary school special education teacher and rose to a job as principal of Miami Edison Senior High School during 17 years with the Miami-Dade school system.
"I've often said if you can run an urban high school in this country, you can do a lot of different things," Corrada said.
That job, he said, was about having common sense, people skills, a commitment to treating people the way you want to be treated and an ability to find solutions through compromise.
Buckhorn said Corrada, who will remain his point man on the GOP convention, is well-liked and has a good record at City Hall.
"He's very versatile," Buckhorn said. "He's a guy who gets stuff done, and I like that about him."
Buckhorn's choice for chief financial officer is Sonya Little, 45, who was most recently the managing director in the St. Petersburg office of Public Resources Advisory Group, which has worked as the city's financial adviser.
Buckhorn, who met Little 20 years ago when she worked with William R. Hough & Co., praised her as knowledgeable, calm, methodical and detail-oriented.
"It was my mission to build an administration of the best and brightest, and I'm lucky that Sonya, like (city attorney-designate) Jim Shimberg, was willing to come and join me on this journey," Buckhorn said. "She is accomplished, she is very, very highly recommended, and I think the city will be well served by her."
Little will earn $160,659 annually. A resident of unincorporated Hillsborough County, she is scheduled to start work May 9 and will serve in an interim capacity until she moves inside the city limits and can be confirmed by the City Council.
Little would replace Bonnie Wise, an investment banker-turned-city administrator whom Iorio hired in 2003. Wise, who is credited with saving the city millions of dollars by refinancing its debt at lower rates of interest, recently took a similar job with Hillsborough County.
Once confirmed, Little's first task will be to help close an expected gap of $24 million to $30 million in next year's city budget.
Buckhorn has asked city departments to tell him what it would take to cut their budgets by 10 and 15 percent.
"In essence, I will get a menu back from all those departments as to 'If we do this, this happens and this will be the constituency that will be affected,' " he said.
Little has a bachelor's degree in business from the University of South Florida and has held two securities licenses. Before going into investment banking, she worked as a bond development specialist with the state of Florida Division of Bond Finance.
In the private sector, she has worked with many local governments as either a financial advisor or as an underwriter for a variety of bond issues for everything from water and sewer improvements to school and university projects to parking and affordable housing.
She also has been the financial adviser to the cities of Hollywood and Hollywood Beach and has served on her firm's financial advisory team for the city of Tampa, Pinellas County, Miami-Dade County and the District of Columbia.
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.