Sarasota Deputy City Manger Marlon C.J. Brown; Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle; former Longboat Key Town Manger Bruce St. Denis; John C. Minder, a registered professional engineer who heads up his own firm; and Venice business process consultant Lorraine M. Vervoordt all have applied to become the new Sarasota County administrator.
A sixth applicant — Barry R. Lewis Jr., of Rockaway, N.J. — practiced law in Sarasota from 1991 to 1995. Since 1998, he has held positions in government administration. He has been manager and chief financial officer for the Borough of Mountain Lakes, N.J., since 2009.
Altogether, The Mercer Group, which the County Commission hired as a consultant to undertake the search, received 45 applications by the end of the day Oct. 21 — the deadline for submitting resumés. The County Commission Nov. 2 will receive the top 15 applications from The Mercer Group. The plan calls for the board Nov. 8 to whittle that list down to three to five names.
Brown, whom Sarasota City Manager Bob Bartolotta points out is the city’s chief operating officer, told the Observer Monday, “I love the community … It’s an opportunity for me to get back into a leadership position.”
Brown was county manager of Gadsen County from May 2005 to December 2008. From March 2009 to June 2009, he was the county adviser on economic stimulus for the Florida Association of Cities, based in Tallahassee. He was hired for his current job in July 2009.
“I certainly encouraged him to apply,” Bartolotta told the Pelican Press Tuesday. Brown “has about 15 to 20 years ahead of him (in his career) and he has tremendous potential. He’s a fantastic administrator.”
Bartolotta added: “The county should be really pleased to consider him.”
In a telephone interview with the Observer, Vervoordt, a 10-year county resident, said that although she has no local government management experience, “having the correct information and being able to present it to the right people” are keys to good government. Her resumé notes that she worked with the Administration for Children’s Services for New York City to implement successfully more than 33 operational systems, including those for Purchasing, Transportation and Communications, during the Y2K timeframe.
“I think I have a unique skill set … and I’d just like to serve (Sarasota County’s) people,” Vervoordt said. “Solutions really have to come from analyzing what we can do.”
The two other Sarasota local government officials applying for the job both have been at the center of recent controversies in the town of Longboat Key.
St. Denis sent a formal letter of resignation Sept. 16 to the Longboat Key Town Commission; the commission accepted his resignation Sept. 21. He had been town manager since 1996.
St. Denis was director of facility management for Pinellas County from 1986 to 1996.
In his letter to the County Commission, St. Denis wrote, “My approach to the position of county administrator places a premium on developing and maintaining relationships at all levels and directions … You should do all you can to solve the current problem and still be able to work effectively with the person/agency when the next challenge arises.”
Hogle had been serving as acting town manager when controversy arose last week over his handling of employee complaints that Longboat Key Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson had created a hostile work environment. The Town Commission relieved Hogle of his interim administrative post following emergency meetings Oct. 17 and Oct. 18.
In his letter to The Mercer Group, Hogle wrote, “As a long-time Sarasota resident, I have a strong background and experience in local government.” Among those qualifications, he added, were “leadership in ethical government management techniques while treating citizens and employees with respect” and “experience in working with both local city and county commissions and staff stressing collaboration for building strong relationships for solving issues.”
Hogle served as a Sarasota city commissioner from November 1998 to Sept. 3, 2001. He has been the Longboat Key police chief since Dec. 2, 2002.
The fifth county resident to apply for the post is John C. Minder, president and owner of Minder & Associates Engineering Corp., in Sarasota, since 1992. He has been a Sarasota resident for 30 years.
His letter says he has been a member of the Metropolitan Area Planning Organization; a member of the Florida Engineering Society (FES) committee that reviewed and made recommendations to county staff on the rewriting of the land development regulations the county is using.
He noted in his letter to The Mercer Group that he had met with Jeff Seward, the county’s former chief financial planning officer, “and he reviewed the entire (county) budget with me so I am familiar with existing problems with revenues versus liabilities that Sarasota County Government is experiencing at the present time.”
The County Commission timeline calls for the finalists to participate in two meet-and-greet public sessions Nov. 14 and Nov. 15. The initial timeline called for the commissioners to possibly extend an offer to a candidate after interviews Nov. 15. However, the commission has scheduled an additional discussion session Nov. 17, if needed.
Candidates from coast to coast
The 45 candidates who had applied by the end of the day Oct. 21 to be the new Sarasota County administrator hail from as far away as Everett, Wash., and Newport, R.I.
They include people from California, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Twelve other candidates, besides those from Sarasota County, are from Florida. Among them are David Hamilton, the county administrator of Hernando County, and Mike Herr, the former Polk County manager.
According to the list of names provided by Sarasota County staff, only four of the candidates are women.