Amy Patterson selected as Collier County manager
Longtime county employee Amy Patterson will be the next Collier County manager.
Collier County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to choose Patterson as the successor to Mark Isackson, who suddenly resigned last month amid disputes over his reimbursements of accrued paid leave.
She is the first woman to hold the position since Collier County's creation nearly a century ago.
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Patterson was one of six finalists to give presentations to the commission at its Tuesday regular meeting on June 14. "If you asked me a year ago if I would be standing here in front of you today like this, the answer is no, but it's been an amazing year," she told commissioners.
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County Attorney Jeff Klatzkow will negotiate a new contract and salary with Patterson, who will be able to pick her successor as deputy county manager. She makes $190,000 per year.
Isackson earned an annual salary of $230,000.
She was one of 40 to apply for the county manager position. The final list included three in-house candidates and three external.
- Patterson, acting county manager for Collier County
- Dan Rodriguez, deputy county manager for Collier County
- George Yilmaz, head of the public utilities division for Collier County
- Leonard Sossamon, interim city manager for Woodbury, New Jersey
- David Puente Jr., deputy director at Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs
- Steve Howard, county administrator for Camden County, Georgia
A Naples native who has worked for Collier County for the past 22 years, her passion for public service began as a junior in high school when she went through the county's "Know Your County Government" program and met former County Manager Neil Dorrill.
"Dorrill made me feel like county government is cool," Patterson said during her presentation.
Her career with the county began in 2000 in an entry-level position as a job bank employee in the Growth Management Department.
Patterson, who later became the director of capital project planning, then took on the deputy manager role in May 2021 after Isackson enacted a new leadership structure that included two deputy county managers instead of one.
As deputy manager, Patterson was charged with planning and executing capital projects such as the Big Corkscrew Island Regional Park.
Commissioners appointed her as acting county manager last month following Isackson's departure. At the time commissioners said the choice was based on her seniority over Rodriguez, the other deputy manager who was also in the running for the county manager job.
Rodriguez took on the deputy manager role in March, shortly after Isackson fired former Deputy Manager Sean Callahan. Callahan was secretly working a second job as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., while he was deputy manager and acting county manager in Isackson's absence while he battled COVID-19 symptoms.
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During her presentation, Patterson listed five priorities she planned to tackle if chosen: cultivating and empowering county staff, developing sustainable policy, enhancing community relationships, safeguarding the public's trust, and preserving the character of Collier County.
Commissioner Burt Saunders, pointed to Patterson's loyalty and long track record with the Collier County government as the reason for his decision.
"We have to look to the future of this county, and I know based on her past experience, I know she will be here for a long time," he said.
Commissioner Bill McDaniel said that while the decision process was hard, he had no regrets about picking Patterson to take on the county's highest role. "I'm not sorry for my decision. I think we made a really good choice," McDaniel said.
Commissioner Penny Taylor agreed, saying "I think Amy Patterson gives breadth of experience. Clearly she is a proven leader in our government."
Before commissioners voted, Commissioner Rick LoCastro told Patterson to "take charge" immediately, adding, "We've had enough shenanigans here."
Patterson, with a smile, said she understood.
Connect with Government Watchdog Report Rachel Heimann Mercader: @racheyy_marie (Twitter), email@example.com, or cell: 239-359-7948