Surprising his bosses, Port of Tampa director Richard Wainio gave his resignation Wednesday, citing personal reasons for his departure.
Wainio contacted the chairman of the Tampa Port Authority's board of commissioners for a meeting Wednesday morning, during which he handed in his resignation letter. He later sent emails to the other TPA commissioners to announce his resignation.
"It's just a purely personal decision," Wainio said. "The port is doing well, we've got great things going, so I figure the end of this fiscal year was a great time to move on."
Wainio said he wants to spend more time with his two children, who are in high school.
Lawrence Shipp, chairman of TPA's governing board, said he tried to persuade Wainio to stay.
"I had no idea that it was coming," Shipp said. "It was shocking to hear."
In his letter, Wainio told the TPA commissioners his resignation will be effective Sept. 7.
"My decision is purely personal based on family considerations and certain future issues," Wainio wrote. "I have very much enjoyed working with many TPA commissioners and our exceptional port staff for over seven years."
Wainio, 62, has served as the Port Authority's chief executive since 2005. He earns $251,118 a year.
Questions over Wainio's future arose last summer, when the Port of Tampa Maritime Industries Association, which represents 47 companies doing business at the port, called for the board to let Wainio go at the end of his contract, which would have expired in March.
In September, despite criticism about his lack of communication with port businesses and tenants, the board voted to extend his contract until March 2014.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, who sits on the port's governing board, received the email from Wainio. She said it was the first she had heard of Wainio leaving the post.
"I am pretty shocked. Most of us were pretty shocked," Murman said. "I don't know what he's going to do or what precipitated the move."
Murman said Wainio received a "good evaluation" during his last review, adding to questions about why he has chosen to leave.
"He's been great at the helm," Murman said. "We'll miss him."
Shipp said the board would organize a committee to conduct a national search for Wainio's replacement and look to interview new candidates for the position within 60 to 90 days. Wainio said in his email that he looked forward to helping the commissioners find a replacement and assisting with the leadership change.
Depending on how long it takes to find a new director, the board might appoint an interim director until a permanent one is found, Shipp said.
"We're going to lose I think a wonderful CEO," Shipp said. "He's been a great asset to the port. But I'm always happy when someone has come to peace with what they want to do."