Wow it could have been us

Lady Lake town manager candidate wants to bring his dog to work


Matthew Campbell

The leading town manager candidate in Lady Lake wants to bring his dog to work, reside more than hour away from the town and have flexibility in work hours due to child custody issues.

Last week, the Lady Lake Commission agreed to offer an employment contract to Matthew Campbell, town manager in Kenneth City, a town with a population of 5,000. He was one of five candidates brought forth by the executive search firm of Colin Baenziger & Associates, which was paid $26,500 for leading the search.

One week later, Mayor Ruth Kussard soured on Campbell after reading a letter which spelled out the terms of his counteroffer to the town’s $120,000 per year top leadership job.

Kussard, a resident of the Village of La Reynalda, was clearly miffed that Campbell ruled out the possibility of relocating to Lady Lake, something that the town said was not required, but was “preferred.”

In his letter, Campbell indicated his primary reason to stay put at his home in Wesley Chapel is due to a child custody issue.

“I am a single parent of a beautiful 9-year-old daughter who resides part-time with her mother in Clearwater, and with me in Wesley Chapel. My divorce requires me to live a certain distance from my daughter, and Wesley Chapel satisfies this need,” said Campbell, who indicated he was accustomed to the hour-long commute to his current job in Kenneth City, which is located north of St. Petersburg in Pinellas County.

Campell also said he wants “flexibility” in his work schedule and to be allowed to bring his yellow Labrador retriever Tucker with him to work.

He said that taking Tucker to work at his job in Kenneth City “has improved our town image.” He also said that scheduling flexibility would be a benefit to him because he gets his daughter the first and third Thursday evenings through Tuesday mornings of each month.

Campbell also asked for 20-weeks severance pay if he parts ways with the town, a $500 monthly car allowance and wanted to discuss bumping the annual pay from $120,000 up to $144,000 per year.

Thad Carroll

After reading Campbell’s letter, the mayor said she had “serious reservations” about hiring him. She raised the possibility of extending an offer to interim town manager Thad Carroll, who heads the town’s growth management department.

Commissioner Tony Holden shared many of the mayor’s concerns.

“I see someone with an attitude problem. I saw someone in the interview who rambled on. He wants flex time. He wants to run the town from his home in Wesley Chapel,” Holden said.

Commissioner Dan Vincent said that the letter from Campbell was “pretty wild” and it “shocked” him. He again raised the possibility of extending a short-term interim town manager contract to former Lake County Commissioner Tim Sullivan.

However, longtime Commissioner Paul Hannan suggested the town make a “final” counteroffer to Campbell. The commissioners, some grudgingly, agreed to this course of action.

They laid out the following terms:

• He must relocate to within 35 miles of the town;

• He cannot bring his dog to work;

• The salary remains firm at $120,000;

• He will have use of town-owned vehicle when traveling on town business, but it is not to be used to commute back and forth to work.