Barwin to Present Retirement Transition Plan

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY NOV 11, 2020

With two  new Sarasota City Commission sworn in, City Manager Tom Barwin is planning his course out of City Hall. After eight and a half years, the administrator revealed in a memo to commissioners he will present a retirement transition plan at a Dec. 7 meeting.

“If they want to talk me out of it, I’m always all ears,” Barwin told SRQ.

But he also said he would rather go out during a high moment in his tenure. The city has foundations for The Bay redevelopment plan in motion, a transportation plan including a Downtown connection to the Legacy Trail and a 100-acre nature preserve in the making at the historic Bobby Jones Golf Course. New tax increment financing agreements were recently approved and the crime rate is low.

He issued his memo after a meeting with new City Commissioner Erik Arroyo, who had asked for Barwin’s future plans to be discussed at a November meeting. But Arroyo said he wasn’t trying to push Barwin; rather he wanted to address rumors the 66-year-old administrator was ready to leave.

At the same time, there’s long been tensions in Sarasota’s politics. Commissioner Hagen Brody has sparred regularly with Barwin. New Commissioner Kyle Scott Battie, who just unseated long-time Commissioner Willie Shaw, has criticized spending of Newtown redevelopment dollars. Sarasota’s last three City Commissioners left amid turmoil. Barwin said he would rather leave with people talking about his successes and while the city seemed on a good track.

“I’ve been managing cities for 39 years, some smaller than this, one three times as big,” Barwin said. “Every election, probably for a month before the election, I do some serious reflection and reevaluation.” While Barwin said he doesn’t follow the political campaigns, he knows the results of political contests can result in changes in policy and vision for a city. All things considered, now seems an appropriate time to retire.

But he plans to stick around the region, maybe even start a business or go into consulting. With so many complex issues in the city, he’d like to help with any transition in leadership.

He also noted U.S. News & World Report recently listed Sarasota as the No. 1 city in America in which to retire, one of many honorifics that praise this community. It would be nice, he thinks, to enjoy the city without worrying about a late night crisis. “I love this city,” he said. “Maybe I will love it even more when I don’t of the responsibility of running it 24-7, 365 days a year.”

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