Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A | Doug Lewis

Doug Lewis talks about taking over as Pinellas Park city manager

Pinellas Park City Manager Doug Lewis was formerly fire chief.

Pinellas Park City Manager Doug Lewis was formerly fire chief.


Doug Lewis took over the reins as Pinellas Park city manager Wednesday replacing Mike Gustafson, who retired after 10 years in the position.

Lewis, 58, is a native of New York whose family moved to Pinellas Park in the mid 1950s.

He attended what was then St. Petersburg Junior College for continuing education courses in fire science. He received a bachelor's degree in 2000 in public leadership and organizational studies from Eckerd College. He received certification as a public manager from Florida State University in 2004.

Lewis worked for St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue from 1975 to 2002, retiring as the rescue division chief before becoming the Polk County fire chief. He left Polk in 2004 to become Pinellas Park fire chief, a position he held until about 10 months ago when he began training to succeed Gustafson. While chief, Lewis served as president of the Pinellas County Fire Chiefs Association and in a myriad of other leadership positions.

He met his wife, Darlene, when they were in the ninth grade at Pinellas Park Junior High School. He has two children. Michael is a firefighter-paramedic with the St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue. Brittney is a resident in orthopedic surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Lewis has one grandchild.

As city manager, he will earn about $130,905 a year.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing you?

Transitioning from answering to one boss to answering to five bosses — the mayor and four City Council members, Lewis said. Maintaining the good relationship Gustafson built between the manager and the council and building on the rapport he developed with council members during the past 10 months.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the city?

Continuing the great service to the city and its residents, he said. Pinellas Park has done a great job since the economic crash of 2007 in maintaining services while cutting back on employees to about 498 from about 600. "I don't think the residents have noticed a drop in services." Officials are ready to revamp citywide technology to maintain and improve customer service without increasing costs. This will help hold down costs as the economy rebounds and the demand for services increases.

What have you learned the past 10 months?

Lewis was especially impressed by Gustafson's ability to connect to all levels of city life, from citizens to employees to businesses. "If I've learned one thing, it's how well he's done that. . . . I'm hoping to continue that."

What is the best piece of advice Gustafson gave you?

"He gave me his phone number." Kidding aside, Gustafson impressed on Lewis the need to make decisions that benefit all — residents, employees, businesses — so that Pinellas Park becomes a better place to live and work.

How do you see Pinellas Park in five years?

The vision of the city is the job of the council, but Lewis said he hopes to see continued redevelopment along Park Boulevard and in the community redevelopment area. He also sees a drastically changed staff with the coming retirement of many longtime employees, including police Chief Dorene Thomas. "We'll lose a lot of the historical experience. . . . We'll be developing a new staff or administration." Currently, officials are mentoring some employees to replace those who will be leaving.

Anything you want to say to Pinellas Park residents?

"Hopefully, they won't see any difference" in services or reduction in the quality of life from the changeover. Lewis said he plans to have an open-door policy for all residents. "We're listening all the time and looking for opportunities" to serve.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.

Doug Lewis talks about taking over as Pinellas Park city manager 01/24/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 24, 2014 1:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  2. Judge won't cut prison term of man who pleads obesity


    TAMPA — A claim of obesity won't shave time off a Tampa man's prison sentence.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.
  3. Advocates for charter, public schools argue their cases at education forum


    TAMPA — Advocates of charter schools argued for diversity in education while supporters of traditional public schools charged that state funding is stacked against them during a forum Friday titled, Choices in Education.

    Schools such as Winthrop Charter School deserve greater public support, their operators say, because they offer a choice in education that is popular among parents. Public school advocates say charter and voucher schools represent a double standard in accountability and enrollment. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
  4. Editorial: UF shows how to preserve free speech


    The University of Florida was forced to navigate a treacherous terrain of constitutional concerns and public safety this week, all in a glaring public spotlight. In the end, Thursday's appearance by Richard Spencer was a success — as much as an unwelcome visit from a notorious white nationalist can be. The …

  5. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.