Oldsmar officials choose in-house candidate as Bruce Haddock’s successor

Oldsmar officials named Al Braithwaite (center) successor to City Manager Bruce Haddock (left center) during a special work session on Friday, July 21, 2017. Braithwaite, currently the city’s director of administrative services, will take over for Haddock, who is retiring after 30 years in the position, on Oct. 1.

In a move considered by some to be surprising due to the timing, City of Oldsmar officials named current Director of Administrative Services Al Braithwaite successor to outgoing City Manager Bruce Haddock on Friday.

The decision came during a work session where the City Council was expected to whittle the candidate list from 10 to two or three before making a final decision later this summer.

Instead, after reviewing information compiled on more than 80 potential candidates by a hired consultant, officials chose the sole in-house candidate to replace Haddock, a 30-year veteran of the position who is scheduled to exit City Hall on October 1.

“I think the process did exactly what we hoped it would do, which is tell us what we didn’t know,” Mayor Doug Bevis said after the short work session.

“We had a lot of very good candidates, but I think we all felt very strongly about the internal candidate. I think that was the one known we knew as opposed to the candidates we didn’t know.”

Oldsmar city officials, including all five City Council members, City Manager Bruce Haddock, Fire Chief Dean O’Nale and City Attorney Tom Trask, met with a consultant on Friday, July 21, 2017 to inform him they had selected Haddock’s successor.

Shortly after the five City Council members, along with Haddock, Oldsmar Fire Chief Dean O’Nale and City Attorney Tom Trask, gathered in the Council Chambers for the meeting, it was clear they had already chosen Haddock’s successor.

Following some brief introductory remarks, Bevis made their intentions known to Art Davis of the Springstead/Waters Executive Recruitment agency, whom the City hired to conduct the nationwide City Manager search.

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.

“I think when we started this process we said we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” the mayor explained. “And I think this book lets us know what we didn’t know.”

“I feel strongly about this, but I make a motion to nominate Al Braithwaite as the next City Manager for Oldsmar.”

The announcement led to a lengthy discussion of the reasons behind the decision, with all four fellow council members expressing their support for Braithwaite, who has worked for the City since 1999, first as a finance administrator before he moved into his current director position in 2010.

“My thoughts are this—you brought us ten good candidates, and three great candidates, but only one feels right,” Council member Eric Seidel said.

Oldsmar City Manager Bruce Haddock.

“I think we’ve done our due diligence and I feel strongly this is the right choice.”

“I feel the same way,” Council member Gabby McGee added.

The decision also had the full backing of Haddock, who has worked with Braithwaite for the past 18 years.

“I think you made the right choice,” he said.

Council member Jerry Beverland was perhaps the one lawmaker who didn’t need to make his opinion known.

Beverland, who has been involved in city politics since 1970, was a staunch advocate of promoting Braithwaite to the position since the search began several months ago.

“He’s the only one who knows this city,” Beverland said. “He breathes this city!”

Consultant Art Davis.

While he said during the meeting that he considered the conclusion to the search unusual, Davis was respectful of the city’s decision.

“We had a very strong candidate pool, because of the quality of the community, the stability of the governing body and the strong city staff, so many applicants wanted to work here,” the consultant said after the 45-minute work session.

“You had a good, strong qualified group of candidates being considered, so it was tough to narrow it down.”

“But I think Al is imminently qualified and will be a great City Manager,” he added. “The Council decided tonight if everybody was feeling the same way, it would save a lot of work by making the decision now. And I have no problem with that.”

Following the official vote, which was unanimous, Haddock called Braithwaite over to the Council Chambers so they could break the news to him in person.

In typical understated fashion, the man known as ‘Big Al’ seemed to take the news in stride.

Al Braithwaite was named as successor to longtime Oldsmar City Manager Bruce Haddock on Friday.

“I’m super he excited,” Braithwaite deadpanned.

“Bruce’s legacy is going to be difficult to follow, but after working under him for 18 years and knowing him for 30, I think I’ve learned a lot and I am ready to apply that knowledge to this new position.”

When asked about the transition period, Braithwaite said he belived it would be a smooth one.

“The learning curve is what it is, but I believe I have an advantage being the internal candidate,” he said.

“I am familiar with the process, I’ll just be seeing it from a different angle now.”

According to officials, the timeframe to replace Haddock remains unchanged.

Based on the original plan, Braithwaite will take over on October 1. Haddock will move out of City Hall at that time and continue to work for the City until his contract ends on January 31, 2018.

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Ed. Note: This article was edited to reflect who called Braithwaite to the Council Chambers and to clarify Haddock’s role after October 1.

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