Norman Hickey, the St. Petersburg city manager whose job vanished when voters chose a new form of government, bid farewell Wednesday evening, saying he had no anger about the past and no fear of the future.
He wanted to set one thing straight, Hickey told the crowd of friends, city employees and city officials at Mahaffey Theater on Wednesday: He's not mad at Mayor David Fischer.
"Dave Fischer and I, I feel like we are good friends," said Hickey. "He won that office."
Fischer took over as the city's top administrator in April after voters selected a strong-mayor form of government over the city-manager form. That ended the job for Hickey, who is being considered for administration positions elsewhere.
Hickey urged those who had come to honor him Wednesday night to continue working to heal the city. In sometimes emotional speeches, they praised the 65-year-old manager for displaying integrity, sensitivity and dignity through a turbulent 13 months with the city.
When Hickey came to St. Petersburg, tensions were flaring over the firing of the police chief, Ernest "Curt" Curtsinger, a movement to bring him back, and then a last-minute settlement to put the matter to rest.
"Time is that thing during which change takes place," Hickey told the group, which included former and current City Council members, former Gov. Bob Martinez, and Fischer.
"We've never had a manager who's accomplished all that he's accomplished," Fischer said, presenting Hickey with a key to the city.
It was one token in a pile of plaques, pictures, and framed declarations Hickey received from civic groups and city officials. He also got a proclamation declaring Wednesday: "Norman W. Hickey Day."
Hickey encouraged the group to call on him again if need be.
"We are not going to say goodbye," Hickey said. "Just adios for now."