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Pinellas appoints interim administrator
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Screenshot by SUZETTE PORTER
Acting Pinellas County Mark Woodard answers questions after his appointment at an April 22 work session meeting.
CLEARWATER – Pinellas County Commissioners voted unanimously April 22 to waive the policy on voting at work sessions and approved the appointment of Mark S. Woodard as acting county administrator.

Commissioner John Morroni was absent.

Woodard will take over the work of former county administrator Bob LaSala, who was terminated without cause on April 15.

“I’m glad he’s there,” said Commissioner Ken Welch. “He’s fully qualified.”

Woodard has worked for Pinellas County since 1988, most recently as an assistant county administrator. He began his stint at the county as a senior financial management analyst and then director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“I am gratified by the confidence shown to me by the Board of Commissioners,” Woodard said in a press release. “I have always been proud to serve the citizens of this county, and I look forward to working with the commissioners, staff and citizens as we continue to strengthen our community and enhance the quality of life we enjoy here in Pinellas County.”

Woodard had applied for the administrator’s position during a search that led to LaSala’s hiring after previous administrator Steve Spratt resigned. Woodard withdrew his application.

Commission Chair Karen Seel said she planned to have a full discussion on a search for LaSala’s replacement on May 20.

“I want to talk now,” Commissioner Janet Long said. “I want to let the citizens know we’re on top of this issue.”

“I concur,” said Commissioner Susan Latvala. “This can be a lengthy process or it can be a short process. There is no purpose in delaying it. Life will go on.”

Seel said she preferred the search be done by Peggy Rowe, director of Human Resources instead of an outside recruiter.

“We need to decide what characteristics and traits we’re looking for,” she said, adding that an external search could take as long as a year.

“I don’t have a whole lot of heartburn about not doing it today,” Welch said. “I’m comfortable with Mark being here. We’ve stabilized the organization.”

Latvala and Long said they would at least like to talk about how the commission would move forward with a search.

The consensus was to move the discussion to May 6.

Seel requested permission to negotiate a contract with Woodard for his interim duties.

“I’m almost a 26-year employee,” Woodard said. “I don’t seek a contract.”

He said he was committed to serving the board and would not be opposed to additional salary for the extra work.

“But I don’t need a travel allowance of perks or extra benefits that average employees don’t receive,” he said.

The commission also will vote on a formal agreement with Woodard on May 6.

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