LESS THAN A YEAR AFTERleaving a job as North Port city manager, Jonathan Lewis got tapped to fill the Sarasota County administrator’s post after Tom Harmer left the position for a job in Longboat Key. Now the public administrator takes on his biggest challenge yet leading one of biggest public bureaucracies on the Gulf Coast. “We’ve got 2,200 employees and I’m looking forward to meeting them all and getting to know them to the extent that I can,” he says. Seems like a good time for the community to learn more about Lewis as well. 

 

PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.

Plumbing coupon   It’s a piece of pipe they use to run water lines in. I went out with the utility team in North Port once and installed a fire hydrant with them. I’m lucky enough that everywhere I have worked, I had teams of folks who at least pretended they were sad when I was leaving, so I have a collection of stuff that given to me as some kind of memorabilia. The plumbing team gave me that coupon. 

Mike Roberto   I got started after grad school working for Mike Roberto, who was then Clearwater’s city manager, He’s since passed on, but was very influential in me deciding as a 22-year-old to do this. I worked in the city manager’s office as an intern, then he added management analyst to my title to make me a little more marketable when I went to get a job. I worked for him for a year and a couple months. What I learned was the passion for local government, how everything is different every day and every hour. You can have the things you want to accomplish, but, once each day starts, none of that is your own. But the impact you have by working in the administration realm distinguishes itself.

Youth Sports   If you view it as spare time, all of it goes into spending time with my family. I’m lucky enough to coach a recreational youth soccer team. I’ve coached with the same guy six or seven years down at the Narramore Sports Complex, a county-owned facility run by North Port. I didn’t play soccer growing up but my son, Theodore, likes playing soccer. We all enjoy spending time coaching because we’re spending time coaching the kids. My daughter Madeline does a sport that I still can’t figure out how it works, gymnastics. It just takes my breath away.

Lee Feldman    I worked for him in Palm Bay and he was a past president of the City and County Management International Association. He’s currently in Fort Lauderdale, and I met him through Mike Roberto. He taught this drive for innovation, and not having a fear to try something new, things that saved money. Like one time road costs were a big problem, and somebody thought of pulverizing the road, then taking old toilets and pulverizing them and using them as a product to make road base. We weren’t afraid to try something new. 

Everlasting plant clipping   When I was still at Clearwater, one of the little projects I worked on was with an elementary school. It was in a socio-economically challenged area and we were trying to revitalize the area, and somehow I finagled the job of helping restore the outdoors with a multi-sensory garden. I knew nothing about it at the time but helped facilitate everything, and when we were done the kids there gave me a clipping of a plant. That was in 1998. I have somehow kept it alive all these years, which can’t be said about all the plants I have owned in that time. I’ve taken it everywhere I’ve been. 

Camping    I go camping with family and a group of friends. Where we go rotates around six or seven campsites. One year we’ll go to Fort DeSoto. Fort Wilderness at Disney is one annual spot we’ve done for years around Halloween. Later this year we will go to Turtle Beach, a county-owned campground, but we’ll go to Wekiwa Springs. It’s just fun to have our families together and for the kids to run around. The one who got us started on this is my college roommate Mike, who has kids about the same age and lives in Tampa Bay, and we’ve also got some good friends we met in North Port, and others from Orlando. 

Love of the Game   I’m a big Red Sox fan. I was born that way. One year we took our kids up to Boston to a game. It wasn’t a meaningful game but Fenway was packed, so we walked around, but I wasn’t able to get my son into the Green Monster, so I was a little disappointed about that. But I don’t know where my kids will end up on that. It wouldn’t surprise me now if they committed to the Braves or the Orioles. I’ve taken them to Rays games; it’s hard to be fans of two teams in one division but I am with the Red Sox and the Braves. I guess I have to pick a National League to root for now. We’ll expand our baseball horizon. But it’s always fun going to an American League game, and we’ve all gone to spring training games at Ed Smith Stadium. We’ll go to any baseball game. We’ll even go to see the Evil Empire play baseball.

A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink  My favorite work-related book. That really struck home for me. It just talks about the concepts and the skills we need moving between the left brain and right brain. The creative side of what we need has to grow from the generation. It’s also about the reality of automation in this country and the impacts on our society and on our economy.

Harry Bosch  I read a series of detective novels by Michael Connelly. The main character is Harry Bosch. He’s got kind of a gruff, no filtered thing going on. It’s a dime store detective kind of novel.  I’m only on book 16 or something. I was on book 11 before I realized there was a television series out there, but I haven’t seen it. I don’t know that they could match the storyline.