In his 37 years in local government around the country, Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid has served as a mentor to numerous employees and developed relationships that have helped him — and those around him — excel everywhere he’s been, according to those who have worked by his side.
And now Reid — who has served as president of the Florida City and County Management Association, FCCMA ethics committee chair and chair of national professional committees — is trying to bring some of the top people with whom he’s built relationships over the years to work with him in Sarasota County.
“I have interviewed numerous people for jobs here that know me professionally, and many (whom) I have worked with,” said Reid, who started with the county in January. “People often enjoy my style of leadership. I have enjoyed long tenures, and my former employees do well in career advancement.”
In July, Reid brought in Thomas Harmer as deputy county administrator to replace Bill Little, who is retiring in February. Harmer, who has 26 years of public-sector and local-government experience in Florida, served as fire chief when Reid was city manager in Titusville, Fla. He also had served as deputy fire chief and city emergency manager in Tallahassee, and has experience in the design and operation of emergency operation center facilities.
“I’ve known Randall for about 18 years, and I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Harmer said. “I watched what he did with Martin County and Alachua County, and I was very excited when I saw the opportunity to come here.”
Harmer started working for the county on Aug. 20, and draws an annual salary of $150,000.
Last week, Reid appointed Lee Ann Lowery as one of two new assistant county administrators. Reid said he’s been a fan of Lowery, the current assistant county administrator in St. Lucie County, for the last couple of decades, as she’s worked on planning and school issues in Central Florida. When Reid was serving as Alachua County administrator prior to coming to Sarasota, Lowery was serving as assistant city manager in Gainesville, where she handled community-services projects and programs for the homeless, while also serving as city liaison to Alachua County.
“Although I did not work directly with Mr. Reid on any projects while I was an assistant city manager in Gainesville, I admired his leadership at the county,” Lowery said. “He was knowledgeable, forward-thinking and committed. Mr. Reid had created a positive, transparent administration and earned the respect of elected officials, employees and the public.
“I am looking forward to my move to Sarasota County, and being on the ground floor of a new administration. But to have the opportunity to do that under Mr. Reid is an incredible opportunity. I am a native Floridian and very excited about living on the West Coast, and especially in Sarasota.”
Lowery, 58, will make $150,000 annually, including benefits. She is expected to begin work in Sarasota Sept. 10.
Last month, Reid and Sarasota County Chief Financial Planning Officer Steve Botelho hired Suzanne Gable as director of Strategic and Financial Planning. Reid hired Gable, 55, as director of Alachua County’s Office of Management and Budget while reorganizing the Alachua County government in 2002. When she comes to Sarasota County, she will be assisting with budgeting and oversight of performance management, and eventually will assist in overseeing the county’s budgets, from procurement practices through performance management and audits.
“Absolutely, one of the reasons to make this job change was to be able to work with Mr. Reid again,” Gable said. “Mr. Reid’s integrity and strong leadership will be instrumental in restoring public trust in the county government. His focus on innovation of service delivery to the citizens is something I want to continue to support in Sarasota County. I will be working directly for Steve Botelho, and look forward to working with the professional staff he has assembled.”
Gable said another and more personal draw to this position is “to be able to be closer to family and the beautiful west coast of Florida.” She has two sons attending college in Tampa who are likely to settle in the area.
Gable will start working for the county on Sept. 24, and will draw a salary of $107,016, with benefits.