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HB mayoral challenger attends first HB meeting

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Political newcomer Carmel Monti entered the race for mayor of Holmes Beach this month. He will face off with incumbent Mayor Rich Bohnenberger in the Nov. 6 city election. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Carmel Monti may be new to politics — challenging Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger in the Nov. 6 city election — but he’s not new to ‘kaizen,’ a Japanese word meaning “the relentless pursuit of perfection.”

        “I have a clean slate,” Monti said June 12 of his political experience before attending his first Holmes Beach city commission meeting.

        “I think that’s a good thing. I’m not jaded.

        “I don’t know what the rules are. I’m very naive to the process.”

        Even so, Monti is familiar with kaizen through a lifetime of running three businesses, and the teachings of Edward Demming.

        Demming was an American statistician, lecturer, author and consultant — most known for his work in Japan, a country which “very much embraced” his teachings, he said.

        One example of Demming’s work is how Japan’s auto industry did not stop at “good,” but, Monti says, worked “to make it even better,” surpassing the American industry with precision engineering in the 1980s.

        Bringing the kaizen concept to Holmes Beach is one goal of Monti’s.

         “The city is wonderful place to live,” he says. “This is good. Now we look to how to make it even better.”

        As for changing the ground rules of the short-term rentals, now under scrutiny by city commissioners, he said, they will need to determine whether the system needs to be changed just to address what he called “the bad eggs,” the people who abuse it.

        His management style is “bottom-up,” finding out first what isn’t working and “manage by the facts,” he said.

        Monti said, “I definitely believe in transparency,” and that city officials and workers are “public servants, not rulers. They shouldn’t be there to milk the system.”

        “I’ve seen a lot of changes since I’ve been here,” Monti said. “I think the Island complexion is changing. But I need to find out all the details.”

        The five-year city resident said he’s only had good experiences from renters in a house across the street from his home in Key Royale.

        Monti says he wants to take the “next three months or so” to sit down and get to know as many people as he can, to knock on doors and  meet with people.

        He is the son of an Italian immigrant, and “very very conscious about integrity,” he says, from the values instilled by his parents while growing up in Battle Creek, Mich.

        He earned a bachelor’s in social sciences in 1969 from Michigan State University. He spent 18 years with Pentex, managing its eyeglass division for eight years, and then moved to the Boston area, became president and CEO of Hilsinger, a company specializing in eyewear and other products, he said.

        Monti is now self-employed, operating My Garden Products LLC. He and his wife, Heidi, sell plants and other garden accessories weekly at the Sarasota Farmers Market, he said.

        They need more space for their growing business, and also have their home in Key Royale on the market, but that was before he decided to run for office, Monti said.

        Now, he says, he’s “looking to stay,” adding he’ll likely find a warehouse or industrial space for his business in Sarasota.

        He invites all Holmes Beach residents to e-mail him at fishandships@yahoo.com.

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