How long have you been a FCCMA member and why did you join?
I joined FCCMA in 2008.
Are you an ICMA member, why did you join, and how long have you been a member?
Yes, I am an ICMA member. I joined FCCMA (2008) and ICMA (2008), when I was Assistant City Manager for the City of Safety Harbor, to participate in the numerous professional development and networking opportunities provided throughout the year.
Please describe your areas of formal/advanced education.
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Leisure Services Administration from The Florida State University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Florida.
Why did you select a career in public service?
I became a Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor for the City of St. Petersburg when I was 17 years old. I have always enjoyed public service, working with residents, leading people and managing programs and services.
Have you always been in the public sector or have you had experience in the private sector?
Always, outside of part-time high school and college jobs.
Please tell us about your current position and give a brief job description if you are not a City Administrator/Manager.
I currently serve as the City Manager for the City of Safety Harbor. I began my career in Safety Harbor in 2004 as the Leisure Services Director and shortly after was promoted to Assistant City Manager before my appointment to City Manager in 2007. My first three years in Safety Harbor were difficult and unstable with two City Managers leaving and a Commission changing yearly, or less. Since 2007 our elected leaders and management team have thrived with needed stability at city hall.
Please describe your typical day.
I am not sure a city manager ever has a typical day or the same day twice. My day starts with helping get the kids off to school and then in the office. I try and spend the first hour of my day on emails and phone calls. From there it is meetings with staff, residents, stakeholders, or a combination of all three. If I do not have an evening public meeting scheduled I try to end my day the same way I started with emails, phone calls, etc. I am fortunate to have an outstanding management team who handle a large portion of the day-to-day business activities.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is the variety. I have a bit of ADHD and need an ever-changing and always fluid agenda to keep motivated and on schedule. When I was younger, I performed in school and in life the best when my plate was full and there seemed to be scheduling chaos around me. The plethora of subjects, tasks, decisions, coaching opportunities, responsibilities, etc. never goes away in this job and would drive most people clinically insane. My personal sense of fulfillment and accomplishment comes in the challenge and success of juggling so many responsibilities on a daily and sometimes 24/7 basis.
What is your least favorite part of the job?
Having the same discussions over and over and over and over again……. but that wasn’t an issue early in my career, so it tells you I am getting to be seasoned….. I guess I should be thankful to still be around to have the conversation for the fifth time.
If you are involved in any volunteer or leadership activities in your community, please share with us a bit about what you do and why it is important to you.
Outside of work I enjoy coaching and mentoring youth. This fall I will be coaching two soccer teams, one flag football team and one basketball team. I am very involved with leading youth sports and working with children. I am also a school mentor at Safety Harbor Elementary School and Safety Harbor Middle School. I am on my 3rd and 4th students since I started many years ago. I start mentoring each student in 3rd grade until they graduate 8th We meet during their lunch period one day a week. I currently have a 4th grader and an 8th grader. My lunches are very rewarding spending time with these kids.
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
I have been around now for 15 years, much has changed since I started in 2004. I take pride and joy in the small victories that ultimately lead to a prosperous city. For instance, I am extremely proud when I hear a resident compliment an employee or a group of employees for a job well done; I marvel at the quality of the services we provide; and I am humbled daily by my role in the leadership of the employees of this wonderful city. One of the most memorable experiences I have is a phone call between myself and the then Assistant City Attorney in 2009 that ultimately resulted in the City of Safety Harbor purchasing 15 acres of waterfront land now known as the Safety Harbor Waterfront Park. I remember immediately calling the Mayor at the time and telling him, we have an opportunity of a lifetime!
What are your hobbies/interests?
My family are my hobbies/interest. I have two high school daughters and a fourth-grade son. My wife and I enjoy biking, running and swimming. We like to run in a few road races each year. Nothing crazy, 10k’s and dual race challenges.
If you could give one piece of advice to people interested in a career in public service, what would it be?
The profession is ever evolving. When I started working in government in the late 90’s most city managers were former community development directors, planners or engineers. Today leaders and managers rise from all departments, many more from Leisure Services the last 10 years. My advice, whatever your area of expertise find opportunities to manage and more importantly lead people/programs/processes in your organization. Be ready to help in areas outside your comfort zone to gain the necessary experience to juggle all that city managers juggle without dropping a bowling pin.
Who were your mentors and how have you passed this information down to other aspiring public administrators?
My first mentors were my parents, they continue to be strong guiding influences in my personal and professional life. Many city managers have helped mentor me along the way including Wayne Logan, Billy Beckett, Bruce Haddock, Frank Edmunds, and Micah Maxwell. Over the years I have volunteered my time on FCCMA committees and boards so that in person or by example I can help mentor the next generation of city managers, who are in the work force now.
What career would you pick if you were to pick another?
I would teach/coach- I am still young, may start teaching before my career is over. I would enjoy teaching middle school or high school math, business, leadership, government, etc. Mentoring and coaching future leaders is very rewarding!
Do you have a story you can share about how being a member of FCCMA has helped you or impacted you in a positive way?
Not sure which FCCMA conference, but one in Orlando early in my career. There was a late-night card game with about a dozen people. The game lasted until some unspeakable time in the morning with an early 8:00 a.m. conference session the next day. I won’t mention names, but the friendship and networking that occurred at that card table still pays dividends for my career today. I don’t even know who won the game, but judging by the professional development, contacts and opportunities for learning that have transpired from that single card game, I am sure everyone at the table won that night! And yes, every single person at that card table was at the 8:00 a.m. session, two of the individuals were presenting!