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East County Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 5 days ago

Commissioners vote to begin process to oust Manatee County Administrator

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The Commission sets Jan. 6 date to decide the fate of Administrator Cheri Coryea's contract.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Manatee County commissioners started in motion Thursday a process that could end with the termination of Administrator Cheri Coryea.

During a heated, contentious meeting, a motion to give at least 15 days before a vote could be taken to terminate Coryea was passed 4-3. 

New commissioners Kevin Van Ostenbridge, George Kruse and James Satcher voted in favor of the motion along with District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh. Carol Whitmore, Misty Servia and Reggie Bellamy cast the dissenting votes.

An ensuing motion to hold a special meeting Jan. 6 with the single item to discuss and vote on the termination of Coryea’s contract then passed unanimously. Commissioners agreed it was best to wait on the decision until after the holidays.

The motion was raised by commissioner Van Ostenbridge, who said he has a different vision for the county, and added he wants a culture shift to run the government more like part of the private sector, as opposed to Coryea, whom he called a “public sector person.”

The dissenting commissioners felt the motion was raised too quickly into the new board’s term, saying the new commissioners didn’t give Coryea a chance to work with them and that the quickness of the move would send a message to county employees and partners that working with or for Manatee County government is too volatile.

Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Angel Colonneso said she felt they needed to take more time to understand the inner functions of county government before making such a move.

Servia noted Van Ostenbridge had only been in office for about 50 hours. Whitmore said she knows this is a premeditated move to replace Coryea, while Bellamy wondered the same without claiming it to be certain.

“I will ask that the entire public that doesn’t support this fiasco that happened today, please come to the meeting,” Whitmore said.

Van Ostenbridge said he disagreed with the direction Coryea was steering the commission, citing the $32.5 million purchase the commissioners passed 4-3 in October for 161 acres at the corner of Lena Road and State Road 64 as a specific example.

Commissioner James Satcher said the purchase was a mistake. Satcher and Commissioner Vanessa Baugh both said the county must be more conservative with taxpayer money.

Dissenting commissioners, on the other hand, said Coryea was only doing what the previous board directed her to do. They said she therefore should not be held responsible for the previous board’s decisions.

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

See All Articles by Brendan

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