In a surprise announcement Sept. 15, County Commissioner Shannon Staub told her constituents and fellow commissioners that she would be retiring in three months.
“In 1996, I began one of the most rewarding times of my life, when I was elected county commissioner,” she said. “Now, 14 years later, I find that it is time to end this journey, and (I) will retire at the end of the year.”
“The news came as a shock to us,” said County Commissioner Jon Thaxton.
Citing a desire to spend more time with her adult son and the fact that she feels like she can no longer give her all to the job, Staub, 64, said it was time to go.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been pulling my weight lately,” she told the commission, saying she’s the type of person who has to give 100%.
Staub, a Venice resident, has served South County’s District 3 for 14 years, the longest tenure of any current commissioner.
“These years of public service have allowed me to help with projects and issues beyond my wildest imagination,” she said.
On her list of proudest accomplishments, Staub cited the creation and advancement of the Environmentally Sensitive Land program, in which the county purchases and preserves natural areas, and the STAR program, which places high school students on county advisory boards.
Staub became emotional as she addressed her fellow commissioners, whom she called her friends and family.
And they, in turn, had high praise for her time in office.
“You’ve contributed a huge amount to this community,” said County Commissioner Nora Patterson. “You’ll be able to be a citizen and look with pride at all the things you’ve helped make happen.”
Commissioner Jon Thaxton praised Staub’s constant positive outlook.
“What’s going to be missed is your optimism,” he said. “You can describe a glass being half-full, when it’s empty.”
County Commission Chairman Joe Barbetta called her an “incredible public servant,” and County Commissioner Carolyn Mason said Staub has been “an integral part of this commission.”
Because Staub’s term does not expire until 2012, the governor will accept applications for a replacement (see below). He will then appoint someone to serve until that time.
“Thank you for allowing me to serve you for these many years,” Staub said, speaking to her constituents. “It has been such an honor and privilege.”
“You’ve been a tireless, dedicated commissioner. You’re a consummate professional. You are always there to answer (a constituent’s) call.” County Commission Chairman Joe Barbetta
“When you leave the table, there will be a void.” County Commissioner Carolyn Mason
“You were a mentor to me. I served with you for all but two years of your service. It won’t be the same without you.” County Commissioner Nora Patterson
“I plead from a selfish perspective for you to serve out your term. We love you dearly.” County Commissioner Jon Thaxton
Less than an hour after County Commissioner Shannon Staub, a Republican, announced her retirement, the Republican Party of Sarasota County had an announcement of its own.
It is beginning a campaign to get a South County Republican appointed as Staub’s replacement.
Because she’s leaving before her term ends in 2012, the governor will appoint someone to fill her seat until that time.
But, because Gov. Charlie Crist recently left the Republican Party to become an Independent Senate candidate, Crist would not necessarily put a Republican in that post.
An added wrinkle is that Crist could be elected to the U.S. Senate in November, in which case Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who is also a Republican, would immediately become governor and would be appointing Staub’s replacement.
The Republican Party of Sarasota County, though, does not want to risk having a Democrat or Independent placed on the commission.
Party Chairman Joe Gruters has scheduled an emergency meeting Sept. 21, in North Port, in which the party is expected to hear from possible Staub replacements and choose one of them to back.
Gruters will then send that person’s name to Crist and urge him to consider that candidate.
“I firmly believe it has to be a Republican from South County,” said Gruters.
Although Staub’s District 3 is in South County, the governor can appoint any Sarasota County resident. But that appointee can only be re-elected in 2012 if he lives in that district.