An important name was absent — inadvertently, the consultant tells us — from the list of 104 candidates for Sarasota city manager: Sarasota banker Jody Hudgins.
Forget the 104 names on the list that consultant Colin Baenziger & Associates submitted to the city. City commissioners should not waste the time and money to conduct the same-old, same-old beauty contest that will bring us the same-old, same-old results.
All of us have watched this show countless times, and the results rarely change. It goes like this: The commission settles — yes, “settles” — for an outsider. He/she knows nothing about the community, its politics, culture or people. So for the next year or two the dog-sniffing proceeds, with all of the community’s disparate groups — neighborhood associations; city employees and their unions; the multitude of business groups; county and regional politicos; not-for-profits; the media and others — checking out the new guy and he likewise.
Honeymoon happiness soon ends, and by year three, inevitably, there is an unexpected flare-up. Then another. Perhaps another. Grumbling begins, first publicly among city commissioners. The whining and rolling eyebrows spread. By year five, he’s gone … Not much has changed.
And the process begins anew. Argh.
Why go through this?
This time it can be a lot different.
For starters, unlike the 104 candidates on the list, Hudgins is a Sarasotan. He knows everything and more that you get to know when you are involved — and we mean involved — for more than 20 years as a community bank president, church leader, volunteer and father.
Hudgins currently is executive vice president of First National Bank of PA in Sarasota and its senior executive in Florida. He is past chairman of the Sarasota County Planning Commission and Sarasota Housing Authority. He is on the board of the Community Housing Trust of Sarasota. He is a trustee at Plymouth Harbor.
Talk to Hudgins about what the city of Sarasota needs, and in no time you will conclude: He gets it. He sees the bigger picture of where the city needs to go, and he has the leadership skills and temperament to be the catalyst.
Call off the beauty contest. The right man for the job is already here.