He has served with the Office of County Attorney since June 2005
Sarasota County Attorney Frederick “Rick” Elbrecht appears to have caught his bosses by surprise last week, when he informed them that he plans to retire later this year.
Elbrecht made the formal announcement to the county commissioners during their regular meeting on Feb. 22.
During his remarks, as part of his routine report to the board, he noted that he had met one-on-one with the commissioners the previous day.
“It’s certainly been a tremendous pleasure to serve as county attorney,” he added. “I do this with mixed emotion.” Nonetheless, he continued, “It’s the right time for me and my family.”
Elbrecht said he likely would step down from the position in the “June timeframe.”
Further, Elbrecht vowed to do all he could “to make it a smooth transition to the next county attorney.”
Commissioner Nancy Detert immediately responded, “Motion denied,” eliciting laughter from her colleagues on the dais.
Other board members seconded the motion amid that laughter.
Later during the meeting, Chair Ron Cutsinger told Elbrecht, “Rick, you caught me a little off-guard yesterday …”
Cutsinger did wish Elbrecht “all the best,” adding, “You’ve had a wonderful career.”
Elbrecht has served with the Office of the County Attorney for the past 18 years, his county biography points out.
Elbrecht formally began his tenure as county attorney on April 1, 2019. On Feb. 26, 2019, the commissioners unanimously approved his contract.
At the time, then-Chair Charles Hines — who had to step down from the commission in November 2020 because of term limits — noted that Elbrecht had asked for a base salary of $223,000, which Hines indicated he initially felt was too high. However, Hines wrote in an email to the other commissioners, “[Elbrecht] has provided good information in regards to comparing his salary request to those of other comparable counties. … I’m comfortable with his requested salary,” Hines added, “but believe that should be open for Board discussion should that be necessary.”
During the that discussion, Commissioner Detert acknowledged having had questions about the salary, but she said that the information Hines had provided the other board members had made “all the difference.”
Prior to the commission’s approval of a 3% raise for outgoing County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh, following his October 2018 evaluation, DeMarsh’s salary was $237,681.60, then-county Media Relations Officer Ashley Lusby told The Sarasota News Leader at the time.
The commissioners ended up unanimously approving the salary Elbrecht sought.
Following their most recent evaluation of Elbrecht — in late October 2022 — the commissioners approved a 5% merit raise for him, which brought his salary to $260,832, then-Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester told the News Leader.
During the Feb. 22 meeting, Commissioners Detert and Neunder also took the opportunity to comment on Elbrecht’s coming retirement.
“Hate to hear his news today and yesterday,” Detert said. “You will be missed,” she told Elbrecht. “You’ll be hard to replace. Thank you for your service to us.”
Noting that one of the primary functions of the Office of the County Attorney is to keep the county out of legal trouble, Detert added, “You’ve done that very well.”
Although he was just elected in November 2022, Neunder told Elbrecht that it is “truly a pleasure just to talk to and spend time with you.” Neunder also wished Elbrecht “the best.”
Elbrecht’s county website biography says he earned his law degree in 1980 from the University of Florida and then, from 1980 to 1987, he worked as an assistant state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit in Manatee County, serving as chief of the Felony Division. Subsequently, from 1987 to 2005, he was employed with the Nelson Hesse law firm in Sarasota, becoming a partner in 1992.
Then, in June 2005, he joined the Office of the County Attorney, “practicing in the areas of civil rights, commercial litigation, and general government law,” the website adds.
The chief deputy county attorney is Karl A. Senkow. The other two deputy county attorneys are Aleksandr Boksner and Joshua B. Moye, the website points out.