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East County Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 4 months ago

Manatee County administrator to keep job after commission reconsiders

Commissioner George Kruse raised motion to reconsider Nov. 19 vote to give Cheri Coryea notice to deliberate her contract.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Manatee County commissioners voted unanimously to reconsider their Nov. 19 motion to give at least a 15-day notice before a vote could be taken to terminate Administrator Cheri Coryea.

The motion was raised by Commissioner George Kruse, who said he has spent the time since the Nov. 19 meeting talking with department heads, staff members and the public about Coryea every single day. He said county department heads were “willing to jump through hoops for her,” adding that’s important because Coryea’s job is to get the department heads to work together.

On Nov. 19, new commissioners Kevin Van Ostenbridge, George Kruse and James Satcher, as well as District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, voted in favor of giving Coryea the notice, kickstarting a process of deliberation about the status of her contract as county administrator. Kruse noted at the time that if he had been asked to terminate her contract that day, he would’ve voted no because of a lack of information.

“At the time I voted for it to offer dialogue and give myself proper diligence,” Kruse said.

Manatee County commissioners voted unanimously not to consider terminating Administrator Cheri Coryea.

Kruse also met with Coryea to discuss his vision for Manatee County, which he said includes lowering taxes, lessening regulations while increasing government efficiency, cleaning up government hiring practices and increasing private sector conservatism. Kruse said Coryea was completely on board to work with him on achieving that vision and that she doesn’t have an agenda, which some administrators might.

“I didn’t campaign on the promise of firing one person,” Kruse said. “I campaigned on the promise of improving the lives of 410,000 people in Manatee County. But I did not promise to come in here as an agent of chaos. I promised to come here as an agent of change.”

Kruse said as long as Coryea is committed to working with himself and the Board of Commissioners to carry out their plans, it makes more sense to work with her rather than spend up to a year or even longer searching for a new administrator, hiring one and bringing them up to speed with Manatee County.

“I’ll give it a year, and I’m almost positive we’re going to be in the right direction and this is a non-issue,” Kruse said. “But a year from now, if we’re right where we are now, I’ll make that motion (to give her notice) myself and take that brunt of complaint that people have.”

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenrbidge, who raised the motion to give Coryea her notice on Nov. 19, expressed disappointment the votes weren’t there to terminate Coryea’s contract but added during the discussion that he had just reached out to Coryea to reconcile and move forward.

“If the board is not as conservative as I thought it was, then that’s OK,” Van Ostenbridge said. “I would like to hold the vote today, because I don’t enjoy the turmoil that it has created within the county.”

Baugh said she still thinks there needs to be discussion and that not all aspects of the county government are run properly. She added that she hopes Coryea will help fix the problems but she will be unhappy if not.

“Everybody deserves a second chance,” Baugh said. “So here it is.”

Baugh declined comment after the meeting.

The county’s rules of order state that motions can only be reconsidered on the day they are passed or at the next meeting where votes can be cast, which was Thursday’s land use meeting. Kruse said he wanted to get this out of the way now, rather than wait for the Jan. 6 meeting that had been planned to consider Coryea’s status as administrator and keep county staff members looking over their shoulders.

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.

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