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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Candidate forum next week as elections near

Candidates for public office in any of the three Island cities have been extremely quiet, even though elections are just four weeks away.

Have no fear, that's about to change.

Island voters will get their chance next week for the "games" to begin as The Islander will host a candidate forum in the Holmes Beach City Hall Oct. 13 starting at 6 p.m. with Anna Maria candidates first, followed by Holmes Beach candidates at approximately 7 p.m.

The race for two seats on the Anna Maria City Commission is over, now that candidate Ben Hayes has withdrawn. That means incumbents Linda Cramer and Duke Miller will be returned to office.

But the mayor's post is still up for grabs. It's the new versus the old as current Mayor SueLynn will be up against former Mayor Gary Deffenbaugh, who declined to seek re-election in February 2002 when SueLynn defeated Tom Skoloda.

Deffenbaugh has said previously he believes the current administration has overspent the city's reserves. SueLynn has maintained she just initiated projects that should have been done by prior administrations. She also says the post is a fulltime job requiring between 30 and 40 hours a week, often more.

Other issues that will likely be debated include capital improvement projects, use of outside consultants and rising professional fees, the city hall remodeling project, stormwater drainage and, naturally, parking, among other topics.

Following Anna Maria, the four candidates for two seats on the Holmes Beach City Commission will get their turn to present their views.

Incumbent commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens and Roger Lutz are joined in the race by former commissioner and mayor Pat Geyer and political newcomer David Zaccagnino.

Bradenton Beach won't have a city election this year as commission incumbent Anna O'Brien has declined to seek another term. That clears the way for the lone remaining candidate, Bill Shearon, to be automatically elected.

In the candidate forum, a panel of Islander reporters will ask questions to each candidate on their views on specific issues. Members of the public will be invited to submit questions to the panel for the candidates.

Following the candidate forum, The Islander will publish profiles on each of the candidates in the Oct. 27 issue. The profiles detail personal information, plus the candidates political agenda for their respective cities and the office they seek.