Editorial Elect Choices

Making choices

  • Anna Maria: Dale Woodland, Carol Carter and Michael Jaworski
  • Bradenton Beach: Janie Robertson, Bill Shearon
  • Holmes Beach: Pat Morton, C. Melissa Williams, David Zaccagnino

Anna Maria voters face a tough decision: Four good candidates are seeking to serve the city and there are only three seats to fill.

Commissioner Dale Woodland has served the city well, and while it may seem he comes to a point from a long distance, he eventually gets there.

Newly appointed Commissioner Doug Copeland was at first reluctant to step onto the dais, but it seems he’s found a comfort zone. His longtime public service on volunteer boards is admirable and it should continue.

Carol Carter also put her name in the ring for the appointed seat, but stepped aside. Now she wants to serve, and her past experience in management and fundraising could be a great asset to the commission and to the city.

And along comes political newcomer Michael Jaworski, also ready to serve and give back to the city he loves. He brings a refreshing sense of logic and street smarts that would serve the city well.

The voters can’t go wrong, but we like the combination of strengths offered by Woodland, Carter and Jaworski.

Bradenton Beach doesn’t have such easy choices. Of two candidates for one seat on the commission, and two for mayor, all have served the city.

And all have served well.

It seems former Commissioner Janie Robertson is frustrated from being on the outside at city hall, and she now realizes, so is the public. For too many years, the city has quashed public opinion and charged through issues by relying on staff and its attorney.

That’s where former Commissioner Bill Shearon comes in. He promises to bring city government back to the people, and to administer the government.

While we’re pleased that Mayor John Shaughnessy has had great success with obtaining pier repair funds in the past week, it’s been business as usual for too long.

It’s time both the city and its staff had a manager.

Incumbent Commissioner Ric Gatehouse was appointed to fill Robertson’s seat almost two years ago when no one stepped up to run for office from Ward 3.

He’s made a positive impression with logical ideas and progress on some issues, but we think he erred on the cell tower.

The former ordinance and the contract crafted by one of the country’s leading cellular communication companies went shamefully by the wayside largely because Gatehouse misconstrued and criticized the terms.

We recommend a vote for Robertson and Shearon in Bradenton Beach.

My momma said…

My mom, like just about everyone’s mom, told us kids if we had nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. I used the same advice with my children.

I took her advice to heart. Still do. But I also believe in putting the truth on the table.

The election in Holmes Beach took a sour turn in the past few weeks, and spelling out the circumstances is the only way to explain it.

It’s the first time in almost 22 years of newspapers and annual elections that I’ve seen partisan-style, angry and twisted political tactics and attacks enter our municipal races.

I suppose it got its start with last year’s election, which saw a pack of candidates rise up to defeat three incumbents on a platform of curtailing rental homes and tourism. Regulations were revved up and enforcement was stepped up, but it was rental agents putting their best practices to work that really had a positive effect.

City spending is up … way up. But much of it flies under the radar of the commission. The body of government that legislates now bows to the whim of the mayor, whose job should be to carry out the commission’s whims.

Just as this year’s elections kicked off, there was rumbling.

We heard the mayor and Commissioner Marvin Grossman — both just one year into their political jobs — were on the outs.

Then Grossman said he wanted Commissioner David Zaccagnino out, although he almost always was on the down side of a 4-1 vote. Grossman wanted harmony.

Hold that thought.

Grossman’s wife, a seasoned Democratic party campaigner, inserted herself in the campaign, solicited a candidate to target Zaccagnino at the polls and Marvin Grossman threw his support to the newcomer in the hopes of ousting the 8-year seated commissioner.

On learning that Zaccagnino had inquired to the city attorney — a discreet and proper inquiry — about the Grossmans’ properties and a possible improper homestead exemption, the Grossmans went on the attack.

The attorney told the mayor, who, with his assistant and the police chief, launched an inquiry, followed by a public memo detailing the Grossmans’ personal information.

The mayor’s public airing of the matter became fuel for their fury and the campaign. Instead of directing their wrath at the administration, they worked a political angle.

The fact the Grossmans had a proper homestead was easily determined by a call to the property appraiser’s office. The matter did not need to be addressed further.

So along comes old-style partisan party politics to nonpartisan Anna Maria Island, while in past years, the island’s seated commissioners only campaigned for, not against colleagues.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth, meanwhile, stacked up in favor of another incumbent, 10-year Commissioner Pat Morton. That left incumbent Jean Peelen, seemingly, to fend for herself.

Peelen had a contemptuous start three years ago and some questionable communications before she lapsed last year in a public attack on the wrong builder — literally. It resulted in a libel suit that remains in the courts, and lacking an apology to the intended subject for her mistruths and a lack of contrition, we don’t recommend a vote for her.

Meanwhile, politics came to The Islander’s Popcorn & Politics Oct. 25 event, where the game changed to soliciting votes to tip the scales on the straw poll.

Well, that’s not how we play the game on Anna Maria Island. At least, I hope not.

Marvin Grossman has a better handle on city issues than he does on politics, and he’s not on the ballot this year.

And so you and the Grossmans don’t get me wrong, I love Jane and enjoy frequent discussions with Marvin. I just think this situation went sideways, and it’s likely a defensive reaction that went too far.

Zaccagnino has done an honorable and diligent job for the city, watching over spending and the employee pension plans through tough times, among other attributes. There’s no lack of experience for him.

Maybe he doesn’t agree on everything all the time, but at least he’s honest and direct in his dealings.

Zaccagnino deserves to be re-elected.

Don’t play games with city government. Vote to preserve the integrity of the city.

The Islander recommends Holmes Beach voters choose three fair, deserving, honest people: Zaccagnino, Morton and C. Melissa Williams.

— Bonner Joy


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