Moye named to succeed Elbrecht as county attorney

Commissioners unanimous in the decision

On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota County commissioners named Deputy County Attorney Joshua Moye the next county attorney.

Moye will take over the position following the June retirement of Frederick “Rick” Elbrecht, who was appointed county attorney in April 2019.

Chair Ron Cutsinger brought up the topic during his report to his colleagues as part of their regular meeting on April 25. He said he would pass the gavel so he could make a nomination.

After handing the gavel to new Vice Chair Michael Moran, Cutsinger named Moye. The other two deputy county attorneys —Karl Senkow, the chief deputy, and Aleksandr Boksner — had applied for the position, as well.

When Moran asked whether any other commissioner wanted to offer a nomination, none did.

“Nominations are closed,” Moran announced.

However, Elbrecht said that, given the circumstances, it would be preferable for the board members to name Moye his successor through a motion.

Cutsinger then made the motion, and Commissioner Joe Neunder seconded it.

Addressing Elbrecht, Cutsinger said, “First of all, Rick, again, we’re still hoping you change your mind. (Elbrecht publicly announced his retirement plans in late February, after meeting individually with the commissioners, they noted.)

After Elbrecht indicated that he would not stay on, laughter ensued.

Then Cutsinger told him, “You put together a great team.” All three of the applicants were exceptional, Cutsinger added.

“This is a tough choice,” Cutsinger continued, “because we have such great applicants.”

“For me, in the interviews,” Cutsinger explained, “one of the things that stood out [is that Moye] had a very, very thoughtful plan about how the office moves forward, the reorganization and efficiencies.” Those ideas “really resonated with me,” Cutsinger added.

Neunder thanked all of the applicants for their time during the interviews and his “opportunity to get to know all of you a little better.” He added that he was “very pleased” that all three candidates “said that no matter what happens, you are able and willing to continue the mission of this organization forward in a cohesive unit. That’s not something I expected to hear, but each one of you said those exact words, or something very close to it, to me …”

Addressing the candidates, Neunder said, “You’re all magnificent people. You’re wonderful attorneys. … I’m looking forward to … the new ideas, the new direction.”

Commissioner Mark Smith added, “I echo a lot of the words [his colleagues had voiced]. We’ve got a great team here in Sarasota County in [the Office of the County Attorney]. You all have tremendous strengths.”

Smith also expressed his appreciation, as well, for the other applicants’ willingness to remain in county employment, “because we’ve got a lot of challenges ahead.”

Finally, Commissioner Moran said, “I’ll make it unanimous. I agree that Josh is a great choice.”
Moran noted that he never had had a meeting with any of the three candidates that did not leave him feeling educated and equipped with the information he needed to make policy decisions.

After the motion passed on the unanimous vote, Moran added that the other commissioners were giving Cutsinger full authority to negotiate Moye’s contract.

In response to a Sarasota News Leader request, county staff provided the following statement from Moye: “It is an incredible honor to be selected for the county attorney position. I am grateful for the board’s trust in my abilities to guide them through policy decisions, litigation, and working towards achieving their strategic priorities.”

Moye added, “Rick served as an excellent example to follow, and I learned a great deal from him during his tenure as county attorney. I look forward to continuing to work with our skilled legal team to provide the best possible representation for the board.”

The last item on the April 25 agenda involved a rezoning application. Because of Moye’s expertise on such issues, he joined the commissioners on the dais for the public hearing.

Then, following Cutsinger’s adjournment of the meeting, this reporter observed commissioners personally congratulating Moye before they left the Commission Chambers.

Moye joined the Office of the County Attorney in January 2018, he noted in the materials he submitted as part of the application process.

Prior to that — from July 2012 to January 2018 — he served as assistant county attorney in the Charlotte County Attorney’s Office. Additionally, he was assistant general counsel and senior attorney with the Florida Elections Commission, through the Office of the Attorney General, from January 2010 to July 2012.

His resume also notes stints with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (December 2007 to January 2010) and the state’s Construction Industry Licensing Board (October 2006 to December 2007).

He added in his cover letter to the commissioners, “I understand the Board’s preferred roles that the County Administration and the Office of the County Attorney play in the implementation of Board policy and the pursuit of the Board’s overall goals.”

During their evaluations of the county administrator and the county attorney over the years, commissioners have stressed the fact that they do not want people in those positions who will try to prod them into setting policies — or, as the late Commissioner Nancy Detert put it — acting like a sixth commissioner.

Moye also explained in his cover letter that he leads “the Office of the County Attorney’s Land Use Group and [sits] as an attorney-advisor to the Board and Planning Commission. While my current specialty is handling and advising on land use matters, complex transactional projects, and complex land use and eminent domain litigation settlements,” he continued, “I also have direct experience handling and advising governmental entities on litigation and other County matters.”

Moye noted that he earned board certification from the Florida Bar in city, county and local government law.