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Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche hires an assistant despite commission's disapproval

CLEARWATER — New Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche hired a new aide Thursday, less than 48 hours after a majority of the commission disapproved of it.

Cheryl Stumpf, 60, an Army veteran from Clearwater, started work the same day.

The commission refused to approve Roche's request to hire an executive assistant in two separate votes on Tuesday. It came on the heels of the group's decision this summer against filling any staff vacancies. One was created when Roche unseated Calvin Harris in the Nov. 2 election. Harris' aide left with him.

Roche said other commissioners lacked the power to enforce the decision, and hired Stumpf anyway. The commission left the job funded at least until a Nov. 30 meeting.

"They can't fire her. I can," Roche said, saying he needs help to get up to speed on county issues. But Roche and Stumpf acknowledged that a budget change could cost her the job.

"I've had to deal with all types of personalities," Stumpf said. "I know how to just go with the flow."

Aides earn $43,000 to $64,000 annually depending on experience for the seven commissioners, who earn $90,800 a year.

Stumpf will be paid $43,000 annually. With benefits, the hiring will save about a $25,000 compared to Harris' longtime aide.

Commissioner Nancy Bostock, a member who opposed the hiring, said she prefers to have six aides as planned, though she wants to ensure each commissioner has equal access to aides.

Roche worked with Stumpf when he was an editor at Imago Magazine about five years ago and she was an assistant editor. She volunteered for Roche's 2008 campaign, the third of his four runs for office, and she voted for him this year, Stumpf said.

Besides serving in the Army and its reserves, Stumpf said, she has held a variety of jobs, most recently running her own retail business.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8779.

Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche hires an assistant despite commission's disapproval 11/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 10:28pm]
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