Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist names onetime rival to DCF's top post

TALLAHASSEE — George Sheldon, a veteran public official who championed liberal causes as a Tampa legislator three decades ago, was named Tuesday by Gov. Charlie Crist to take over Florida's Department of Children and Families.

The 61-year-old lawyer and Democrat served as assistant DCF secretary for operations under his mentor, Bob Butterworth, and became interim secretary when Butterworth resigned in August.

"George understands the people business," Crist said.

Sheldon will earn $120,640 a year overseeing an agency that protects children from abuse, distributes food stamps to needy families and seeks private adoptions of foster children. The agency has 13,000 employees and a $3-billion budget, which Sheldon said requires a need for more efficiency.

"This job, I think, really is about children who need to pull themselves up," Sheldon said. "It's about that family in need who needs food stamps."

Sheldon advocates tackling alcohol and drug abuse, poverty and unemployment to address family problems that can lead to child abuse and domestic violence.

Sheldon sidestepped the question of whether Florida should rescind its controversial, decades-old law that prevents gay couples from adopting.

"That's a policy decision that the Legislature needs to deal with," he said. "I'm really just executing the statutes."

Andrea Moore, a South Florida lawyer and child welfare advocate, called Sheldon's selection "an exceptionally good choice. … He also has the experience now to know what else needs to be fixed and the respect of all who work with him to get it done."

Long before it was politically acceptable in Florida, Sheldon supported lighter penalties for first-time marijuana users. He also built a record as an environmentalist and lobbied for conservation causes in the 1980s.

Sheldon was a deputy state attorney general when Butterworth was state attorney general, and an associate dean at St. Thomas University law school in Miami when Butterworth was dean.

George LeMieux, Crist's former chief of staff, said Sheldon "gets things done. He's responsive."

A Wildwood, N.J., native, Sheldon began his career as a college intern to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. After college, he was an aide to then-Sen. Reubin Askew of Pensacola, who was elected governor in 1970.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com.

Crist names onetime rival to DCF's top post 09/30/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 5:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]
  2. Former Lightning forward Brian Boyle diagnosed with cancer, expects to keep playing

    Lightning Strikes

    New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor said can largely be treated with medication.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]
  3. Editorial: Genshaft right to oust USF St. Petersburg leader

    Editorials

    In times of crisis, leaders cannot abandon ship and be unclear about their whereabouts. That is essentially what the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg did with Hurricane Irma headed this way. Sophia Wisniewska's actions fell short of what should be expected from an experienced administrator …

    Sophia Wisniewska’s actions fell short of what should be expected from an experienced administrator responsible for the safety of her students and the security of her campus, and the move by USF president Judy Genshaft, above, to fire her was appropriate.
  4. Duke Energy Florida president answers questions about utility's response to Irma

    Hurricanes

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than a week since Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions of Floridians, Duke Energy announced it will finish its restoration efforts Tuesday.

    Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris greets St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday at a news conference where both spoke about Hurricane Irma recovery. The event was held at a Florida Department of Transportation lot next to Maximo Park in St. Petersburg, where the city is collecting Irma yard debris which will be mulched and sold to a local tomato farmer. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Leaves, mountains, ice cream and cheese: What's not to like in Burlington, Vt.?

    Travel

    If I loved Burlington, Vt., during a visit with my daughter when the high was 37 degrees, I feel completely comfortable recommending the city as a great destination for fall, when it's considered one of the top leaf-watching spots in the world.

    Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is the sixth-oldest college established in New England.