Former Madeira Beach City Manager Shane Crawford said he was encouraged by numerous people and groups in Treasure Island to apply for the top job in that city, but he has “made the decision to avoid local government.”
Although the Treasure Island commission last month was unanimous in believing they had an heir apparent in Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Amy Davis when current city manager Garry Brumback announced his retirement effective June 1, two members of the commission suggested they open the search for a successor.
Treasure Island Mayor Tyler Payne confirmed to Tampa Bay Newspapers that constituents had lobbied on behalf of Crawford.
The former Madeira Beach chief executive got sideways with a new City Commission in 2017 after negotiating for two new developments encompassing more than a million square feet of hotel rooms, condominiums and retail space in the gateway where the Madeira Beach Causeway meets Gulf Boulevard.
The developments would replace vacant lots and a 1950s-era strip mall that was home to a tattoo parlor, nail spa, e-cigarette shop and other small businesses.
The squabbling over major development, routine in small beach communities, turned personal. Ethics charges and lawsuits were lobbed back and forth. Crawford lost his membership in his professional organization, the International City/County Management Association, and eventually resigned along with his wife, Cheryl, who was city clerk at the time. The pair’s relationship had blossomed at City Hall.
"After what transpired in Madeira Beach and with the ICMA issue, I've made the decision to avoid local government, which lacks loyalty and allows for sabotage attacks such as what occurred in Madeira Beach," Crawford said in an email to Tampa Bay Newspapers. "Couple that with a litigious group in TI and Madeira Beach that file outrageous lawsuits to slow the spread of responsible development, and not only development but just a functioning and responsible government, it's safe to say for cities to prosper and move forward, they have a long upward climb.”
Crawford is currently a vice president with Southern Guaranty Insurance Co. in the Clearwater area.
In February, the Madeira Beach City Commission, which has turned over four of its five seats since the controversy, passed a resolution requesting Crawford’s reinstatement into the professional association. Crawford sought approval of that resolution, but his email to TBN indicated little interest in returning to public life.
"My wife and I wake up every day happy that we live in paradise. The people that affect local government in Madeira Beach and Treasure Island don't wake up the same way,” he stated. “I've chosen to surround myself with good people that can contribute to the common good, but also to me as an individual, and local government doesn't allow that for our area; so I refuse to participate."
He said he wished Treasure Island “all the best, and I’m sure Amy will be everything that they’re hoping for.”