‘There’s no one better,’ county administrator says as he passes the baton to Coryea

Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Cheri Coryea to the position of acting county administrator following Ed Hunzeker’s retirement.

In the temporary role lasting up to one year, Coryea will be the first woman to serve in the position. At Tuesday’s meeting, county employees said commissioners were making the right choice.

“I couldn’t be happier with the decision,” said Hunzeker, who is set to retire from the county Friday after serving Manatee County for more than 12 years. “There’s no one better to turn the reins over to than Cheri.”

Coryea has spent 28 years in management positions with Manatee County Government and has worked closely with department directors, commissioners and other county staff as the deputy county administrator since 2017. She previously served as director of the Neighborhood Services Department for 10 years.

“You all have a tough job to do with difficult decisions to make every day for the 388,000 who live here,” Coryea told the Board of County Commissioners. “I’m here to earn the respect and the trust of this board and this community.”

Commissioners previously went back and forth on the issue but ultimately decided to amend the rules to allow Coryea to fill the role as acting administrator. Her lack of a bachelor’s degree made her ineligible, but board members passed a resolution that acknowledged the experience she earned on the job.

Coryea thanked the board for the opportunity and said, “I know your decision to change your ordinance wasn’t easy,” but in the past few weeks, she was “very inspired” by hundreds of people who approached her and shared similar stories about how they came just shy of earning their degrees.

Fellow deputy county administrator Dan Schlandt, who is also retiring Friday, spoke highly of his colleague.

“I’m a man of few words, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving at the same time as Ed if Cheri weren’t there,” he said.

As commissioners spoke in favor of Coryea’s work ethic, the friends she’s made throughout the years filled the Patricia M. Glass Commission Chambers. She received a standing ovation at the board’s 7-0 vote.

Coryea’s appointment officially begins at 5 p.m. on March 1, according to the resolution.

Ryan Callihan is the Bradenton Herald’s County Reporter, covering local government and politics. On the weekends, he also covers breaking news. Ryan is a graduate of USF St. Petersburg.
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