Anna Maria Islander
by Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter
West Manatee Fire Rescue District commissioners were faced with the unenviable task of choosing a replacement for retiring longtime WMFR Chief Andy Price.
Commissioners had to select between Deputy Chief Brett Pollock and Capt. Tom Sousa.
In the final vote taken at the district commission’s Sept. 25 meeting, the fact that Pollock has already decided to retire shortly after Price worked against him.
Commissioner Ron Cooper said both applicants were “well qualified for the position.”
But it “doesn’t make sense to select someone who we will have to replace eight months after he’s hired,” he said.
Price is scheduled to retire in May 2015. Pollock is set to retire in early 2016.
Pollock said he understood the decision. He said he knew when he applied that his decision to enter the DROP would work against him, and he had no hard feelings about Sousa’s selection.
The vote to name Sousa as Price’s replacement was unanimous.
Although Commission Chair Scott Ricci said he was concerned neither candidate had enough budget experience, Cooper said Sousa will have ample time to work with Price on financial matters.
Commissioner David Bishop said Sousa will “get all the training he needs. It’s just unfortunate that we had to choose between two well-qualified people.”
Sousa expressed gratitude, saying he understood it was not an easy decision.
“I want to thank everyone involved in the process,” he said.
He also acknowledged the difficulty the board had in choosing between himself and the deputy chief.
Sousa will be formally offered the position by Ricci. After acceptance, he’ll begin training to start the job when Price retires in May.