1. Blogs
  2. /
  3. Bay Buzz

Pinellas County’s top choice for top job: Barry Burton

The administrator of Lake County, Ill., emerged as the top choice out of a field of more than 40 candidates. The Pinellas County Commission voted 7-0 to start negotiating a contract.
Lake County, Ill., administrator Barry Burton was tabbed to become the next administrator of Pinellas County on Thursday. [MARK PUENTE  |  Times]
Lake County, Ill., administrator Barry Burton was tabbed to become the next administrator of Pinellas County on Thursday. [MARK PUENTE | Times]
Published Aug. 16, 2018
Updated Aug. 16, 2018

A nationwide search ended Thursday when the Pinellas County Commission unanimously selected an official from outside Chicago to be the next county administrator.

Now, all Barry Burton has to do is accept the job.

It took the commission about 35 minutes to discuss the three finalists for the job and focus on Burton. Commissioners voted 7-0 to allow chairman Ken Welch to start contract negotiations.

Burton, 54, is the county administrator in Lake County, Ill., and was a finalist for the Pinellas position in 2001. He would bring decades of experience of managing county governments seated in large, urban areas.

"He has a pretty good collaborative skill set," commissioner Karen Seel said.

Five of the seven commissioners ranked Burton as their No. 1 choice.

"I like his enthusiasm for coming here," Commissioner Pat Gerard said. "He really wants to be here."

Burton currently serves 21 county commissioners and oversees a $503 million budget in Lake County, which has 51 cities. From 1996 to 2002, Burton worked as deputy administrator for Franklin County in the Columbus, Ohio area and served as county administrator in Allegany County, Md. From 1988 to June 1996, Burton held various government roles in Hamilton County, Ohio.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pinellas commissioners interview county administrator candidates

He earned a bachelor's degree in urban administration from the University of Cincinnati and has a master's degree in public administration from Northern Kentucky University.

"My family and I are very excited," Burton said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times. "Can't wait to work out the details and join such a wonderful organization and community."

Pinellas commissioners need a new a administrator to replace longtime leader Mark Woodard, who will retire later this year after 30 years with the county. The position pays $212,000 to $275,000 annually.

The administrator oversees about 2,000 employees and agencies that include emergency management, emergency medical services, regional 911 service, public works, solid waste and utilities.

Since 2014, Woodard has been credited with improving relations with officials in Pinellas' 24 municipalities and the county's business and nonprofit leaders. The Pinellas commission has praised Woodard during performance reviews and for how well he worked with other leaders to deal with Hurricane Irma last year.

The four candidates for Pinellas' top job spent Monday and Tuesday touring the county, interviewing with individual commissioners (in both closed-door and public sessions) and held informal talks with community members, county department heads and local business leaders.

Overall, commissioners praised each of the applicants.

Burton emerged as the top choice out of a field of more than 40 applicants.

Two of the final four candidates were from Georgia: Savannah City Manager Roberto Hernandez and Camden County Administrator Steve Howard. However, Howard withdrew his name for consideration on Wednesday without offering an explanation.

"He just blew me away," commissioner Dave Eggers said. "His answers were true. His answers were candid. The man has gone through a lot of growth."

The lone finalist from Florida was also from Pinellas herself: Clearwater Deputy City Manager Jill Silverboard.

She also received praise from several Pinellas commissioners who said they would like her to join the county in a high-ranking role, such as assistant county administrator.

Welch said he had concerns about Hernandez when the candidate asked the commissioner to have coffee a week before the interview. Welch called that a "red flag."

"That was too aggressive," Welch said.


  1. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  2. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) passes in the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Baylor in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
  3. People fill Community Cafe as drag queen Viktoria Sommers reads a Dr. Seuss book to children during Drag Queen Story Hour.  [Times (2019)]
  4. He was the best player on some pretty bad Tampa Bay teams from 2001-06 before being dealt to Houston in the Ben Zobrist trade, but in his book "Baseball Junkie," Aubrey Huff has admitted he was not a particularly likable character.
  5. Tampa Electric Co. announced plans to double its solar capacity over the next three years.  Pictured is a Tampa Electric worker installing a solar panel on the roof of the Tampa International Airport economy parking garage in 2015. [James Borchuck | Times (2015)]
  6. Trading Martin St. Louis was hard, but the Lightning's return turned out to be even better than they thought at the time.
  7. LSU linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson walks on the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Austin, Texas.
  8. Tropicana Field saw big crowds again during Game 4 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
  9. NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is awake and speaking with family and doctors a day after his horrific crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
  10. USF defensive back Mike Hampton (7), returning an interception during the 2018 season opener, will help lead the Bulls through what could be the American Athletic Conference's toughest schedule in 2020.
  11. Cirila Díaz sostiene fotos de su esposo Agustín Pardo. Pardo recibió un disparo mortal en Plant City el 14 de enero mientras conducía por Colson Road, no lejos de su casa. Su familia describió al trabajador agrícola retirado como cuidadoso y trabajador.
  12. Marc Maron, show here during his Netflix special "Marc Maron: Too Real," will perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on Feb. 15, 2020.