Business Columns & Blogs

Focus on Manatee: Celebrating Ed Hunzeker and the retirement of a true leader

It is truly rare these days to have someone in the community who has leadership traits that are unprecedented.

It is even more rare that a person who has worked in the public sector for over 50 years is viewed as a great leader of his generation, a leader who has brought a community to the highest standards with minimal resources.

If you have a dynamic leader overseeing a workforce of just over 1,800 employees, with a growing population of just under 400,000, can you meet the community’s objectives?

In 2007, when Manatee County needed to lay off many employees because of tax revenue retraction, the county administrators office still accomplished many community objectives while at the same time provided quality customer service.

His office has accomplished more with less than I have seen in my career, and a big part of those accomplishments are attributed to the senior leadership team that has been assembled by the county administrator during his 12-year tenure.

We all know that great leaders surround themselves with great managers that have skill sets that the leader lacks. Great leaders mold a work environment that requires balance, accountability, ethics and empowerment.

The senior managers of the county administration are empowered to make recommendations, take risks, follow policy, have fun and make sure staff members do not work with fear.

After a 12-year tenure, Ed Hunzeker’s final day as Manatee County administrator was Friday. Tiffany Tompkins

Many of these characteristics that have been applied to the county administration workforce has allowed the employees to work with confidence, think outside the box and feel good about their accomplishments for the community.

I’m sorry, but that’s not the norm in government.

This leader by the name of Ed Hunzeker has instilled this into the workplace, and now I know in my heart that Manatee County is a better place to live because of it.

It took one great leader who walks life every day with a positive attitude and unselfish mindset who has been so consistently loyal to his workforce, a workforce that never wanted to let him down.

Hunzeker was born to be a leader and he has applied his God-given talents every day. If I can be half the man that Hunzeker is, I will live a successful life.

Ed, I want to thank you for leading our beautiful community for the past 12 years, a community that is now on track for many future opportunities. You have been a blessing to me, and many many others in our community.

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Many blessings to you and your family as you take your next step in life. I know God has a plan for you and I am excited to find out what that new plan is one day.

Elliott Falcione is the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and can be reached at or 941-729-9177, ext. 3940.

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