Two years after losing her job as Largo city manager, Susan Stanton has been picked to lead Lake Worth.
Stanton, then Steven Stanton, was fired in March 2007, a month after revealing plans to change her gender. Stanton served Largo for 17 years, 14 of them as city manager.
"Lake Worth has a very progressive city commission and a staff that wants to improve the quality of life in the community." Stanton said in a phone interview Tuesday night. "It's the first place I wanted to work after I left graduate school at the University of Florida."
After wrapping up a City Commission meeting, Largo city leaders said they were happy for Stanton and Lake Worth.
"Two years is a long time to be without a job," said Mac Craig, Largo's current city manager. "I think she'll make an excellent city manager. I personally think they're lucky to have her."
Craig said he spoke with Stanton recently and she was upbeat about the interview. Stanton told him she was watching Lake Worth city meetings regularly and had a handle on key city issues.
Five out of seven Largo commissioners had voted to fire Stanton. Most said it wasn't because of her gender choice, but because they lost trust in her ability to lead the city.
But Commissioner Rodney Woods and Mayor Pat Gerard, Stanton's staunchest city supporter, stood by her.
"I don't think they'll be disappointed," Gerard said Tuesday.
"Susan has always been a professional person and I knew she would land a job that's right near her heart," Woods said.
Since she left Largo, Stanton, 50, has applied for more than 100 positions in city management, and interviewed for several of them. Most recently she was one of the top picks for manager of Clatsop County, Ore.
After her firing, Stanton lobbied Congress on behalf of laws to protect gay and transgender people from employment discrimination. She also appeared on TV with Larry King and Montel Williams.
But for more than a year Stanton has tried to maintain a low profile while searching for a new job.
Lake Worth near the ocean in Palm Beach County is offering her an annual salary of $150,000. Commissioners who serve the city of about 37,000 people told the Palm Beach Post they were impressed by Stanton's team-building approach and dependability.
"I thought she had the right temperament for our city and, truthfully, I learned a lot from her," said Vice Mayor Jo-Ann Golden.
"She's highly motivated," said Commissioner Cara Jennings "Also, we need someone who wants to be here for a long time."
Lorri Helfand can be reached at [email protected] or 445-4155.