Government May Recruit Hines or Hopes to Lead

Todays News

Manatee County Commissioners will part ways this month with County Administrator Cheri Coryea. Next, leaders in Manatee County have expressed interest in hiring former Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines to the post on an interim basis, but School Board Member Scott Hopes has also expressed interest in the job.

Commissioners on Tuesday canceled a planned meeting to discuss terminating Coryea, set up months after she survived a post-election effort to install new leadership after the November elections and days after County Commissioner George Kruse said he felt threatened an extramarital affair would be disclosed following an informal meeting with County Commissioner Carol Whitmore and arranged by Coryea’s office. The political tumult has led to divisions within Manatee County since November.

Hines, an Osprey attorney, said he’s been looking for a way back into local government since term limits forced him to retire in November after two terms. He’s considered taking a job in lobbying. But Manatee County Attorney William Clague received permission Tuesday to discuss the interim post with Hines. The former Sarasota County elected official said he will speak with commissioners in coning days about the possibility.

But he feels confident he can bring the understanding of a county policymaker to the administrative post. “The right balance falls between someone who says I’m controlling things and just going to the commission to ask for approval on a done deal versus someone who is hands-off completely and nothing happens without a meeting,” he said.

He demurred when asked about applying for the job long-term. “I don’t have it yet on a temporary basis,” he stressed. But he did say with decades of experience as an attorney before holding office, he brings experience in law, as a business owner and as an elected official to a job that could benefit from all those things.

Right now multiple county commissioners expressed confidence Hines could hit the ground running, including Coryea supporter Whitmore and critic Vanessa Baugh. Commissioner Misty Servia noted he has experience with searches for three Sarasota County Administrators.  

Hopes’ name also came up from some commissioners. The Manatee County School Board member has looked into the issue enough to learn through the Ethics Commission there would be no legal requirement he resign his elected office to take the county position. He said he’s talked with county commissioners about potentially signing on to the job on a one-year contract. “My position is with these executive positions, if someone is looking for longer than a one-tear agreement they have no confidence in their ability to succeed and they want the protection,” he said.

Hopes also brings a range of experience. He oversaw a $15 billion budget in Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration in the Agency for Health Care Administration, but also has served as chairman and CEO of Healthcare Management Decisions, where he’s worked 31 years. He served on the University of South Florida Board of Trustees and continues to teach there and at LECOM.

And County Commissioners also briefly discussed hiring former Manatee County Schools Superintendent Rick Mills.

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