Stanton a Sarasota job finalist

Published May 16, 2007

SARASOTA - As she lobbied in Washington for a law to protect transgender workers, Susan Stanton was named Tuesday as one of six finalists for Sarasota's city manager position.

The Sarasota City Commission unanimously accepted a consultant's recommendation to keep Stanton, 48, on the list of finalists. Commissioners are scheduled to interview Stanton and the other finalists on May 29 and 30.

After the decision, Sarasota City Commissioner Ken Shelin said he was not surprised that Stanton was a finalist, considering her long and distinguished career in Largo. There, as Steve, Stanton served as city manager for 14 years before being fired in March, a month after revealing plans for a sex-change operation.

Shelin said he couldn't understand Largo's decision.

"He had - she had - a successful career in Largo, so what was the basis for her firing?" he said. "The only thing I could recognize was discrimination."

The other five finalists are Robert Bartolotta, former town manager of Jupiter; Daniel Fitzpatrick, city manager of Peekskill, N.Y.; Patrick Salerno, city manager of Sunrise; Marsha Segal-George, deputy chief administrative officer of Orlando; and Terry Zerkle, former city manager of Tempe, Ariz.

Bartolotta said he was pleased to be a finalist and was not concerned about competing against someone who had become nationally known.

"I don't think in terms of other candidates," he said, adding, "It's just a question of why I'm the right one for the position."

As part of the application, each finalist answered a series of questions for Sarasota officials.

Asked how the job in Sarasota fit into her overall career goals, Stanton wrote, "I'm looking forward to coming to Sarasota as a fully authentic person who has survived a profound personal and professional crisis with a sense of dignity and pride."

Another question asked each candidate whether they had been fired or asked to resign.

Stanton replied: "It is my sincere hope that my experience in Largo and the national media coverage of my termination will educate future elected officials on the complexities of many medical conditions which manifest in the work environment.

"Despite my termination, I am very proud of my service to the Largo community."

Meanwhile, Largo city commissioners voted 5-1 Tuesday night to investigate whether some commissioners and city staffers violated the city charter by not disclosing that they knew about Stanton's transgender status before it became public in February.

Commissioners will ask the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to handle the investigation.

"We need to clear the air," said Commissioner Andy Guyette, who made the motion for the investigation.

Mayor Pat Gerard, who knew about Stanton's decision, was the lone vote opposing an investigation. Commissioner Rodney Woods was not present.

"Whatever!" she said. "I have nothing to hide."