GreyHawk Landing resident Mitchell Teitelbaum said he remembered a different Manatee County 10 years ago, when he first moved to the area.
He recalled a scene of more pastures and farmlands, and a Main Street at Lakewood Ranch which was far less active than it is today.
So he thought it was time for him to grow as well.
Teitelbaum accepted a role as Manatee County's newest deputy county administrator and was unanimously confirmed by county commissioners on Nov. 29. He had been serving at an assistant superintendent and general counsel of the School District of Manatee County.
“I want to express not just my appreciation for being selected for this position through County Administrator Dr. (Scott) Hopes, and our county commissioners, but I also want to say how excited I am for this opportunity to continue my role in community service,” he said.
Teitelbaum will hold the position alongside fellow deputy commissioners Robert Reinshuttle, Charles Bishop, and Courtney De Pol.
His responsibilities primarily will focus on fleet services, public records, iinformation outreach, areas of code enforcement including magistrates and hearings, economic development, and human resources.
Although that seems like a long list of responsibilities, Teitelbaum said his previous job with the school district was somewhat on the same scale.
“This wealth of experience these past years has qualified me to take on this role handling the various departments,” he said.
Teitelbaum worked with the school district since 2014, first as a staff attorney before moving to general counsel, and then finally receiving the added role of assistant superintendent.
He said he does expect challenges in his new role, but his district experience should help.
One example, he said, is the work he has been performing with the communications department at the school district to ensure that the correct messaging is provided to the public, conveying what he called “the prosperity and growth of our students and the success within our schools.”
He also said his involvement with the development within the school district would provide him with knowledge he could bring to economic development, a department intended to encourage growth and prosperity within the county.
Some examples of economic development by the school system, he said, include community partnership schools, dual language programs, technical education programs by Woz U, Manatee Technical College, an upcoming Guy Harvey school on Anna Maria Island, and other specialized offerings.
“What we do for secondary education that is not necessarily college bound, is all part of economic development,” he said. “It is showing the growth of the workforce.”
He said development must be pursued with concurrency, ensuring that new resources are sufficient to serve certain areas which may themselves be expanding.
Other experience he said he can draw from involves transit, as he has also given legal information to those managing the school bus system. He called coordinating school buses “one of the hardest jobs you could imagine.”
The operation is extremely time-sensitive, he said.
“You’ve got to pick them up at a designated time, you must drop them off before the first bell rings.”
He also pointed to other responsibilities he held with the school district.
Starting with the beginning of the term of Superintendent Cynthia Saunders in 2018, he said, he was assigned to oversee 14 charter schools in the county for their day-to-day operations, including compliance issues.
He said for a year, he managed the school’s guardian program, created in 2018 after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
He was also assigned to the area of risk management to perform fiscal analysis in terms of the purchase of insurance, the payment of claims, workers’ compensation, and general liability, and was assigned to public records for customer service and compliance.
While he did serve as the school’s legal counsel, he said he will not provide legal services to the county in any way. He said that capacity belongs strictly to County Attorney William Clague.
Nonetheless, he said he believes skills that he acquired as an attorney, such as providing guidance during conflicts, will bring value to the role.
“Those qualities transcend to this next position. There's no question about it,” he said.
He said his duties have to help the big picture of county government come together.
“It’s utilities, it’s water, it’s waste, it’s all pieces of a very big puzzle, part of a master plan for the county that's approved by the Board of County Commissioners upon the recommendation of the county administrator,” he said. “You don't look at the trees. You must look at the forest at all times.”
He said his first move will be to become thoroughly acquainted with staff members and their operating procedures. He will meet with team members and assess departments, structures, and organizational charts, discussing each department’s greatest challenges and what must be done to increase efficiency.
“You're as good as your team,” he said. “Your success is never as an individual. If you have a great team, you will have great results.”
Teitelbaum said he finds it difficult to narrow down the responsibilities he is excited to assume.
“I find the entire position to be absolutely amazing. And I look so forward to joining the county and being a part of its continued growth and prosperity,” he said.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect how Teitelbaum was involved with the school bus system.
Ian Swaby is a reporter for the East County Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands. You will find Ian at everything from Music on Main in Lakewood Ranch to Manatee County Commission meetings.