Political newcomer challenges HB mayor

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger qualified early last week for his fourth consecutive run as the city’s top administrator, and the race was uncontested until minutes before the close of qualifying week.

       Ten to 15 minutes before the qualifying deadline at noon June 8, according to city clerk Stacey Johnston, Carmel Monti, 65, of 530 Key Royale Drive, filed qualifying papers, challenging the mayor in the Nov. 6 city election.

       “I’m qualified — that’s a good thing,” said Monti after his filing on June 8.

       About why he’s running, Monti said, “I’d like to see changes made in certain areas. I believe I can contribute to the city to make it even better.”

       He said he’s run three businesses in his life, and feels qualified to run the city.

       Bohnenberger announced his intention to retain office in April. He was first elected city commissioner in 1993 and then again 1999-2006. He has served as mayor since 2006, and previously held the position 1993-94, having resigned his first-term commission seat for the mayoral run.

       Bohnenberger last week issued a statement on his goals for 2012-14, including opening the 32-acre preserve at Grassy Point for public access; continuing stormwater improvements; lobbying the Florida Legislature to restore local rental regulatory power; applying “every existing code possible to bring resolution to major rental problems;” and working with staff to deliver cost-effective public services.

       “Together we have achieved so much while setting a new record of four consecutive years of no tax increases,” Bohnenberger said in his statement.

       Bohnenberger also indicated he’d be recommending new police hires enter the state pension plan to save the city money and protect current pension plan members.

       The mayor serves as the chief executive officer of the city and attends commission meetings. He also oversees the city administration and manages the city budget. The city’s 2011-12 budget is $8,665,109.

       The mayor has authority to hire and fire city employees, except for department head appointments or terminations, which require concurrence from the commission. The mayor also holds the power to veto legislative actions of the commission, but a vote of four commission members can override the mayor’s veto.

       The mayor is elected for a two-year term, and draws a $12,000 annual salary.

       Johnston said she qualified the candidates by determining their petitions contained the required signatures of registered voters and making sure they paid the $120 fee and filed proper forms, including an affidavit of two-year residency.

       As of June 4, there were 3,259 registered voters, according to Johnston. Voter turnout for the previous election was 28 percent.

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