Governor's Chief Of Staff Eyeing Lucrative Job In South Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis is managing the response to the pandemic and massive economic upheaval; plus, a legislative session is about to start. The governor also likely faces having to find a new chief of staff -- quickly.
Since the day DeSantis took office more than two years ago, Shane Strum has been in charge of day to day operations in the Governor's Office. The job of chief of staff is seen as the most powerful unelected job in state government, and it’s often a stepping stone to more lucrative work in government or the private sector.
Strum emerged this week as the leading candidate to be the new CEO of Broward Health, the major public hospital system in greater Fort Lauderdale. Outgoing CEO Gino Santorio announced his departure in late November to run a private hospital in Miami Beach.
Strum is known for his high energy and long work schedule. He has deep personal and political roots in Broward County and is a former chief operating officer at the county's other large public hospital, Memorial Healthcare in Hollywood. He says he wants the Broward job and will be interviewed in the next couple of weeks.
"Health care is in my wheelhouse. It's something I enjoy; it's something I like," Strum said. "I'm a Broward guy, I love Broward, it's my beloved home. My family is still back in Broward County, and it's been over two years. I think I always knew I would return to Broward County."
Broward Health Commissioner Ray Berry says it's important for the district to move quickly, and he strongly endorsed Strum's qualifications.
"Shane has been around a long time, and he's been in the community a long time," Berry said. "He knows what he's getting into. What's really important to me is understanding the complexity of the community and the system."
Berry says the search is on a fast track, partly because the next legislative session starts on March 2nd.
"The sooner we can get these interviews going, the better off we're all going to be," Berry said. "I think Shane's putting himself out there at a little bit of a risk. The session is coming up. I think we owe it to folks to get it done fast and not wait any longer."
The 51-year-old Strum is one of only three finalists for the Broward Health job, which could pay him more than a million dollars a year. That's more than five times as much as the $180,000 a year he earns now as chief of staff.
Broward is known for its closely-knit political network, and Sturm is the only local candidate among the finalists -- another sure sign that he's likely to be selected. He's also the only one with extensive experience at a tax-supported public hospital system overseen by political appointees.