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Commissioner Vanessa Baugh hopes Manatee County residents embrace change

District 5 commissioner says facts show Manatee County is moving in the right direction.

  • By
  • | 7:30 p.m. May 25, 2022
  • East County
  • Opinion
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Change is hard. And change is hitting us here in Manatee County… hard.

But it shouldn’t hurt like this.

(The May 24) Manatee County Commission meeting was gut-wrenching — as I watched veiled and not-so-veiled — attacks of our County Administration and County Administrator, Dr. Scott Hopes.  While the meeting was tough to endure, it was not surprising.

What most Manatee County residents don’t know is what has gone on here at the county daily, as forces inside and outside our organization work to undermine our progress. There has been a lot of things going on behind-the-scenes where people have been actively working against the new commissioners and the new administration. While those forces represent a slim minority, they would like you to think there’s a mass exodus of county employees.

That’s simply not true. 

During the so-called “great-resignation,” where a record number of Americans (by the millions each month) quit their jobs, Manatee County was not spared. But we weren’t decimated, either. 

While 593 employees left the county in the 14 months since Scott Hopes took over as administrator, only 243 of those resigned. A look at HR records from the previous 14 months shows 426 people parted ways with the county, with 141 resignations and 58 quitting, and giving less than two weeks’ notice.

Also, since the new administration took over, 815 positions within Manatee County Government have been filled, including 473 new employees, five dozen re-hires and 166 promotions.

Dealing with facts is important during this period. Unravelling the false narratives and misinformation takes time and energy.  Deflecting personal attacks takes even more. We can’t afford to waste any more of those precious commodities as we push through inflation fears, a shrinking talent pool, and increasing expectations. 

We need to continue to fuel the positive momentum we are carrying here in Manatee County — and not let those bent on division and destruction have their way.

Manatee County is changing.  We are experiencing growth like we’ve never seen before. New neighbors. New opportunities. And new challenges. We hired a new administrator to help shepherd us through this important period of change. We need to let him do his job. 

We need to do ours, too. We are re-aligning our working groups to do what we need to do even more efficiently to support our growing community. 

Some departments are being reconfigured, others are being combined, but the changes are being done with efficiency, teamwork, and customer focus in mind. 

We have already made great strides. From finally writing the closing chapters of the Piney Point saga, to our continuing work on improving infrastructure, to the expansion and upgrades in our parks, preserves and recreation centers.

As a group, a team, we have a lot ahead of us. That work is going to be tough, but rewarding

We can’t do things the way we’ve been doing it.  We must be smarter, quicker, and more responsive, because all those new people moving here expect it.

I shudder to think what a new resident, watching our board’s performance May 24 for the first time, would have thought. It couldn’t have been good. We need to do better. It is my fervent hope that we will. I look forward to continuing our progress, serving our residents and visitors with the vision of making our community an even better place to live work and play. 


Vanessa Baugh

Manatee County Commissioner District 5


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