Despite negativity, Shawn Smith won’t seek end to his contract

Key West City Hall

Key West City Attorney Shawn Smith says he “will not give up on this city,” and as such, will not ask the city commission to terminate his contract, which renews in December for a year if neither party seeks to end it.

For more than a year, Smith has faced criticism by some city employees and calls for his resignation by several supporters of the Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships.

Smith’s employment contract with the city ends in December. If he wants to terminate that contract, Smith, who has been the city attorney since 2006, must notify the city commission by Aug. 23, which is 120 days before the contract expires or renews.

Key West City Attorney Shawn Smith has served in the position since 2006. CONTRIBUTED

On Sunday, Father’s Day, Smith put to rest rumors that he may accept a job with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority with an email to the mayor and commissioners. 

“I will not be asking that my contract be terminated,” Smith wrote “I will not give up on this City. Despite the negativity, I continue to believe that we can do better together. I plan to stay to do my part to improve what is before us.”

His contract will renew for one year at a time as of December unless he or the city seeks to end it. Smith’s letter appears below, unedited and in its entirety: 

Mayor & Commissioners,

Over the last number of months, I have seen many city employees leave City government. I’ve also seen the City I love marked with negativity and much animosity.  While people have always been passionate about their beliefs, they have generally disagreed without being personally disagreeable.  Recently, there were calls for me to resign and that I either “did nothing” or “was moving too fast”.  I learned long ago from exceptionally good mentors that I must give the best legal advice I can and what my clients do with that advice is up to them. I believe I have consistently given that advice to the City of Key West for nearly 16 years. 

On Dec. 21 of this year my contract is up. Either the City Commission or I must give the other written notice within 120 days of that date, by Aug. 23, of a desire to terminate the agreement (Original agreement paragraph 5(c) dated Nov. 27, 2006). If notice is not given during that time, the contract continues from year to year.

 A couple of recent events reminded me why I chose to live here after my parents brought me to Key West at the age of seven. I saw a glimpse of what this town is about on the day my older daughter’s softball team left to compete in the state finals. I have never been so proud of this community as I was that day. People lined the streets from the high school through Sugarloaf school to wish them well. There was nothing but positive energy and hope for these young athletes’ future. That is what this town was at one time. A destination of hope.

The other event that gave me perspective was my dad’s funeral. My younger sister gave a eulogy that I think few others would have the strength to give. It too reminded me of the hope and promise that filled this town. I remembered values that my dad had instilled in me that time had tarnished but not erased.

With that backdrop and much reflection, I will not be asking that my contract be terminated. I will not give up on this City. Despite the negativity, I continue to believe that we can do better together. I plan to stay to do my part to improve what is before us.

I remain available at your leisure to discuss this or any other issues you may have.

Take care, Shawn

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.