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Family concerns lead to James McCormick's exit. Safety Harbor promotes Matthew Spoor.
Published Sep. 11, 2009

In a surprise announcement, Safety Harbor City Commissioner James McCormick says he will resign.

McCormick, who was elected to the commission last year, told colleagues Monday night that he does not have the time to devote to the commission. McCormick, 32, works as a financial adviser and branch manager of Morgan Stanley's office in Port Richey. He also is the father of two children.

McCormick did not give a date for his departure, only that he will leave within the next five weeks.

"When I first ran for election, I sought to increase the quality of life, to make it better, to actually break the mold of the status quo that was here,'' he said. "However . . . as many of you know, I was elected March 20, my son was born March 21, and I was promoted on April 28. I have been driving an inordinate amount of time to get to my job. As a result of that, the quality of life for my family has declined rapidly.''

McCormick said he wanted Safety Harbor residents to know that he has tried hard to maintain his commitment to the city, "but there is a breaking point.''

He will move closer to his office in Pasco County as soon as he sells his house, probably in mid-September. A contract on the house is pending.

McCormick, who considers himself the "fiduciary conscience'' of the commission, asks tough questions when it comes to money, especially capital improvement projects such as the library expansion.

He said he feels most upset about leaving because he had vowed to donate his City Commission salary, $4,000 per year, to the library foundation and now that opportunity is gone.

McCormick, who holds Seat 3, has about a year and a half left on his three-year term. The commission must now find an interim commissioner to serve until the next city election, March 11. Commissioners said they would discuss how to name a replacement at a future meeting.

"It was a great joy to serve the city," he said.

Also Monday night, commissioners agreed to promote Assistant City Manager Matt Spoor to interim city manager when city manager Billy Beckett leaves Oct. 1.

Spoor, 30, was formerly the city's leisure services director.

He lives in St. Petersburg, with his two children and his wife, Laurie.He earned his master's degree in business administration from the University of South Florida and has worked for the city for about three years.

Spoor and the commission struck a deal: He will serve as interim city manager for six months, and if it works out, he can have the job permanently.

Beckett, 58, the city manager since late October, told commissioners last week that he intended to resign. His decision came after Mayor Andy Steingold questioned the number of Fridays that Beckett took to work as a referee at NCAA and Arena Football League games.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or