New Oldsmar City Manager Al Braithwaite was sworn in on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Braithwaite is replacing Bruce Haddock, who retired on Oct. 1 after 31 years in the position.
As Mayor Doug Bevis noted Tuesday night, for the first time in 31 years there was an unfamiliar item on the Oldsmar City Council meeting agenda.
Longtime city employee Al Braithwaite was sworn in as Oldsmar’s fifth City Manager on Oct. 3, 2017, replacing the retiring Bruce Haddock, who left office October 1 after serving in the position since 1986.
While Haddock remains under contract with the city, working from home on special projects, through the end of January, Braithwaite, who has been with the City since 1999 and served as director of administrative services since 2010, has officially stepped into his mentor’s shoes.
“Replacing him is impossible,” Braithwaite, a big guy with a dry sense of humor, told Oldsmar Connect after Haddock’s farewell party at Nielsen on Friday night.
“The challenge is obvious, and all I can do is the best I can do.”
“But I have him on speed dial, so I can call him if I need him,” he added. “I don’t think he’ll be willing to sit in on any future meetings with me, though.”
Oldsmar officials named Al Braithwaite (center) successor to retiring City Manager Bruce Haddock (left center) during a special work session on July 21, 2017.
It’s that type of tongue-in-cheek humor, along with his sharp, analytical mind and ability to work well with staff, that has helped endear Braithwaite to his colleagues and coworkers.
As he sat in Haddock’s familiar spot to the right of the mayor for Tuesday’s meeting, the five council members welcomed Braithwaite to the dais and engaged him in a little good-natured ribbing.
“I’d like to welcome Al Braithwaite as our new City Manager. Looking for many years with you by my side,” Bevis said at the start of the meeting.
“I think you only have 740 more council meetings and you’ll catch up to Bruce!”
Following a quick and uneventful meeting, the other four local lawmakers extended their congratulations during their Council Comments. Sort of.
“I’m not gonna say congratulations to Al again, because I think I’ve congratulated him way too much,” Council member Eric Seidel joked.
“But I will say the mayor’s right—pretty good first at bat. Let’s hope you can keep this up!”
Al Braithwaite was welcomed as Oldsmar’s fifth City Manager by Mayor Doug Bevis and other officials on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.
After Council member Gabby McGee and Vice-Mayor Dan Saracki said their welcomes, Council member Jerry Beverland, who was in favor of replacing Haddock with an internal candidate from the start of the replacement search, weighed in with his thoughts.
“I’m happy, and I’m sure the other council members are happy, that you came up through the ranks,” Beverland said. “I believe in coming up through the ranks.”
Al Braithwaite speaks at Bruce Haddock’s retirement party on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
With that, the mayor added he was glad they conducted the nationwide search because it allowed them to realize the best candidate was right under their noses the whole time.
“I was honored to be part of the process to do this,” Bevis said. “And I’m glad we went outside to find out what we didn’t know.
“And what we found out was we have a pretty damn good city right here, and I think we picked the best candidate. But I’m glad we went through the process to know that that was the case.”
When Bevis asked Braithwaite if he had any closing comments, his reply was perfect.
“One down, 755 to go,” he deadpanned.