Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Commissioners' list of Pasco leaders is heavy on developers

In the search to replace retiring County Administrator John Gallagher, county commissioners asked their $24,000 recruiting firm to solicit suggestions from the community.

No problem, the recruiter said. Group meetings would be held so residents could air their concerns.

But commissioners decided that wasn't enough. They also wanted certain community leaders to have individual sit-downs with the consultant, to share their thoughts on qualities the next county administrator should have. Each commissioner was asked to submit a list of names. The lists would then be combined to form a group that would have special access.

Each commissioner turned in a list this week.

Heavily white and male, it includes many with ties to the development industry. No representatives from environmental groups or ethnic minority groups were represented.

"I tried to put regular people on my list," said Commissioner Pat Mulieri, whose submissions included animal services volunteer Connie Loring and the Rev. Leonard Lord of Light of the World Tabernacle, as well as Larry Engle, a sheriff's deputy who coordinates mental health training programs. However, she also included Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel CEO Brian Adams and Greg Lenners, general manager of the Shops at Wiregrass.

Commissioner Henry Wilson, who also used the term "regular people" to describe his list, included United Way director Duggan Cooley and Mitchell High career specialist Michele Chamberlin, as well as Republican activist Randy Maggard.

"I tried to get people who don't usually come before the commission," he said.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey included her husband, Trey, a former developer and chairman of the board of the Pasco Economic Development Council. She also listed Saddlebrook founder Tom Dempsey, and lawyers Shelly Johnson and Barbara Wilhite.

"I tried to get men and women and people who were in all different kinds of businesses that had dealings with the county administrator," said Starkey, who listed four women, more than any commissioner. She said her husband, whose family name is on the county's wilderness park, could be considered an environmentalist.

Commissioner Jack Mariano's list was composed of business owners in his northwest Pasco district, including Dais Analytic CEO Tim Tangretti, and Steve Henry, who owns an RV dealership in Hudson.

"I wanted to get people who know what it's like to deal with things like permitting," he said.

Commission Chairman Ted Schrader said he looked for people who had experience running large organizations, including government.

Among the names on his list were former Zephyrhills city manager Steve Spina; former county commissioner Michael Cox, also a former Port Richey mayor; and Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning, who also served as Florida secretary of state and the county's supervisor of elections.

State Sen. Wilton Simpson, also among the names, was listed because he is chairman of the county farm bureau, Schrader said.

"I wanted to include agriculture interests," he said.

Gallagher, one of the state's longest-serving county administrators, retires in April. Commissioners have hired Tallahassee firm Bob Murray & Associates to recruit candidates and recommend finalists, though commissioners will have the final decision.

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