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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Anna Maria Candidate Profile

Gary Deffenbaugh
Gary Deffenbaugh has lived in Anna Maria for the past 30 years and currently owns and operates Island Lock and Key. He was a sergeant with the Anna Maria Police Department before it was dissolved in 1985. He served as mayor from 2000 to 2002, and served on the planning and zoning board after he declined to seek re-election.

He believes the city needs fiscal responsibility and wants to bring that to his administration. Too much money has been spent on the wrong things, he contends.

Because of over-spending by the commission, the reserve level has been dangerously lowered.

Deffenbaugh also believes that with his "hands-on" management style, he can get more productivity from the public works department.

He also said the city needs to focus more on capital improvements and building up the cash reserve. He doesn't see any way to lower the tax rate, and is opposed to a line of credit or bond issue.

However, a mortgage on city hall would generate enough funding to complete many capital improvements that have been pending for a number of years. There would also be enough revenue for a major remodeling of the exterior of city hall, he predicted.

Deffenbaugh favors the new city charter, which makes the mayor the chief administrative officer of the city, but a non-voting member of the commission. He likes the idea of being able to talk to commissioners "one-on-one.

"I'm a hands-on person, not a memo person," he said.

He also wants to keep the city a bedroom community and is opposed to condominium development, although a major condo project might provide some relief to beleaguered taxpayers. "We need to keep Anna Maria as a small-town community. We don't want condominiums."

He sympathizes with the small business owners plight and wants the city to "support any organization" that fights for tax relief.

SueLynn was elected mayor in February 2002. Because of the new city charter, her term was extended until November 2004. She was a professional organizational and management consultant to major corporations and businesses before retiring to Anna Maria in the early 1990s. Prior to her election, she was a member of the environmental education and enhancement committee.

She believes the next two years will be extremely critical for the stability and future of Anna Maria, particularly with a new comprehensive plan being written, and a review of the land development codes.

Her focus is on leadership, management and stability, and believes she has brought that to the office of mayor.

Among her accomplishments in office were the formation of the capital improvements advisory committee, establishing a bid process for projects, creating an appointment process for city committee membership and writing the job description manuals and employee handbook, completion of the city hall remodeling project which was originally scheduled six years ago, and a return to "civility" of the Anna Maria government.

The commission and mayor now have "respect" for each other. Commissioners often differ with the mayor, but not with the "malice and animosity" of prior administrations.

Capital improvements are another major issue for the city and SueLynn believes the city has overlooked a number of such projects for too long. She wants many of these completed, but the decision to fund capital improvements must be made by the city commission, not the mayor.

She wants Anna Maria to "retain its charm" as a small-town bedroom community, and supports business owners who are fighting against rising taxation. She is opposed to allowing condominium development in the city.

She said she made a promise when first elected to "leave the city in a far better condition than how I found it," and while much has been accomplished, there is still much to be done.