Sarasota Herald-Tribune | by Jesse Mendoza | April 1, 2021
Manatee County commissioners hired Scott Hopes Thursday to replace former County Administrator Cheri Coryea on an interim basis.
In a 6-1 vote, commissioners agreed to a $187,000 contract with Hopes after a motion by Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge, who initiated the effort to remove Coryea from the role last November, citing Coryea’s role in the county’s purchase of 161 acres on Lena Road for more than $30 million as a leading factor. Commissioner Reggie Bellamy cast the dissenting vote.
Commissioners navigated a public saga to terminate Coryea that included multiple attempts to part ways, confessions of adultery with claims of blackmail, questions about special interest involvement and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Sunshine Law investigation.
Hopes takes the acting county administrator role immediately. He also serves on the Manatee County School Board, a role Hopes said he will vacate after a replacement is appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“The county administration is my No. 1 priority,” Hopes said.ACTING MANATEE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR AND SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER SCOTT HOPES
In addition to serving as a School Board member since 2017, Hopes offers significant experience in health care-focused management and consulting services, and has served in CEO roles for HMD Healthcare Corp., Healthcare Management Decisions Inc., CliniLinc Inc. and MediLinc Distribution Limited.
“The county administration is my No. 1 priority,” Hopes said. “I think that the School Board has an operating rhythm, and I am prepared during this transition period to not only work with the governor’s office and the community with regards to identifying a candidate for the governor to appoint. I am hopeful that it will happen in a relatively short period of time.”
Commissioners also agreed to some restrictions on the acting administrator’s authority. County Attorney Bill Clague said Hopes as acting administrator would be allowed to fill county positions, but that department directors would need to be approved by county commissioners. Hopes would also have to seek approval from commissioners to serve on the board of nonprofit organizations.
Hopes’ hiring allows Karen Stewart, who has been serving as interim administrator since Coryea’s departure, to immediately return to her former position as deputy county administrator and economic development official. Commissioner Carol Whitmore said Stewart will be instrumental for the county as commissioners decide what to do with federal COVID-19 federal relief money.
“Since November we all haven’t been on the same page on a lot of issues. Dr. Hopes is the only applicant here for this job,” Whitmore said. “We need somebody, we are getting all this money from the feds and we need Karen back in her position again to start getting this money out to the public.”
Photo: Manatee County School Board member Scott Hopes, pictured in 2018, has been hired as acting Manatee County administrator. THOMAS BENDER/HERALD-TRIBUNE FILE