Randall Reid has wanted to be Sarasota County’s administrator for a long time. Fourteen years later than he had envisioned, Reid will attain his goal Jan. 23.
In 1997, Reid was a finalist for Sarasota County’s top post, which went to Jim Ley.
In a twist of fate, Reid will be overseeing the final stages of cleaning up the Procurement Department scandal that erupted under Ley’s watch. Interim County Administrator Terry Lewis started the process last summer.
Reid also will be focused on continuing the restoration of employee morale. The combined efforts will be a high-profile start to the latest leg in his long career in public service.
Reid came in 1987 to Florida from Ohio. After holding local government positions in Titusville and Stuart, 12 years ago he won the job of Alachua County manager and moved to Gainesville.
“I was attracted to Sarasota County 14 years ago, because it’s a progressive community that tries to maintain natural systems and create an enriched civic life,” Reid said. “That’s what I call a winning combination and a sustainable, living community.”
But Reid notes that in all communities, economic downturns challenge government officials to become creative in maintaining services with fewer resources.
“When the economy went down here in Gainesville, we created a broader organization called ‘Innovation Gainesville,’ to get all organizations and neighborhood associations to discuss the common good of the future and the threats posed to (the) communities,” Reid said.
He offered a glimpse of how he reacts to such threats by explaining Alachua County’s response when a Gainesville pastor burned the Quran last year.
“It was so serious, we knew it was going to affect not only tourism or the image we had, but it was simply something that was intolerable to the values we have here in Alachua County,” Reid said. “We invoked our emergency operations plan, spoke out and held interfaith religious services to take care of a vital threat to the values our citizens have.”
As an Eagle Scout — a rank only 2% of all Boy Scouts attain — Reid said he abides by the Scout Law.
“It’s a value-based program, and that’s why I am a traditional, value-based person,” Reid said, adding he hopes to see those values instilled in all Sarasota County government employees.
“Everyone must understand we are an ethical, transparent organization,” he said.
He plans to underscore that focus on ethics in every speech he makes and hold ethics refresher courses for employees.
After Reid discovered a texting issue in Alachua County that violated the state’s Sunshine Laws, he used a photo of himself texting to create a poster with the heading, “Thou Shall Not Text,” and put up copies of it all over county offices.
“Whether they like me or dislike me, my employees had a picture and a clear message from their boss in a marketing campaign that had some self-deprecating humor,” Reid said.
His other top priority when he starts work later this month is “to build the best county government in Florida.”
“I want the words ‘premier county government’ returned to Sarasota,” Reid said. “That’s my New Year’s resolution.”
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio
Hometown: Vandalia, Ohio
Family: Wife, Connie Allen; daughter, Katie, 29, of Australia; two sons, Nathan, 27, of Austin, Texas, and Adam, 23, of Gainesville
Occupation: Alachua County manager; new Sarasota County administrator as of Jan. 23
Hobbies: Avid reader, enjoys camping and hiking, walking and playing tennis and golf.
Passion: The outdoors and international traveling. Reid is also a history buff and plans to get up to speed on Sarasota County’s history when he moves to town.
Interesting facts: Reid played rugby in college and is refurbishing an older Airstream RV he hopes to haul around the country someday.