Holmes Beach commission chair readies leap to mayor’s seat

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“Mayor” Judy Titsworth.

The Holmes Beach City Commission chair said she might be ready to handle the position.

“It might be time for me to try on the mayor’s hat,” Titsworth said. “Whatever I do, I’d throw my whole heart and soul into it.”

She said she would give a 10-year-commitment to the job if she does decide to run and is successful.

“I still have time to decide, don’t I?” she asked.

She does. Qualifying for the Nov. 6 municipal election will start June 18 and conclude June 22.

Titsworth, a lifelong Holmes Beach resident, is the first candidate to publicly declare her interest in the mayor’s job.

Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson’s second two-year term expires in November and he said he is not running for re-election.

“I’m going to go back to my life,” Johnson said. “My wife and I will do more traveling.”

Holmes Beach was named for Titsworth’s grandfather, Jack Holmes, and construction has long been the family trade. She has worked 30 years in construction and development.

Titsworth was first elected commissioner in November 2012 and re-elected in 2014 and 2016. Her third term expires in November.

“I’ve always thought in order to be a good mayor you ought to be a commissioner first,” Titsworth said. “The learning curve is huge.”

Elected vice chair in 2012, she was elected commission chair in 2013, a job she still holds five years later.

Titsworth, who attended the University of Alaska and Manatee Community College, has been canvassing fellow and former commissioners on her choice to run for mayor.

Former Commissioner Marvin Grossman said he knows Titsworth is planning to run, but is undecided on whom to support for mayor.

“I don’t know,” Grossman said. “Anything I say will get me in trouble.”

Grossman, who lost his seat in the 2017 election, is teaching an art class at the Center of Anna Maria Island and enjoying life out of public office, he said.

“Judy called and told me what she wanted to do, so that was good,” he said. “I think we need to wait and see what happens. She’s a good friend and she’s run those commission meetings very well.”

Commissioner Carol Soustek said she would back former fire chief Andy Price if he runs for mayor.

“Andy Price would make a very good mayor,” Soustek said.

Price, who retired from West Manatee Fire Rescue in April 2015, could not be reached for comment.

Soustek said she hadn’t given thought to backing Titsworth when asked.

“It’s a demanding position and it takes finesse,” Soustek said. “Oh, Lord. That’s a good question. Not a lot of people are willing to do the job.”

Former Commissioner Jean Peelen declined to run for re-election in 2017, citing health concerns. She said she wants to vote for a qualified, experienced mayor.

“I don’t think that person has appeared yet,” Peelen said. “It’s distressing to me. I don’t see anybody on the horizon who is qualified to be the next mayor.”

Peelen said managing the 54-person city staff and its $13.4 million budget requires an advanced level of experience.

“I think we’ve passed the time when we are a sleepy little town relying on our citizens to be part-time mayors and commissioners,” Peelen said. “We’ve got a lot on our plates. If the mayor is to be the administrator of the city, my goodness, you have to be a qualified mayor.”

Johnson declined comment when asked for his choice for a mayoral candidate.

Other seats are up for grabs in the midterm election, according to city clerk Stacey Johnston. The commission terms will expire for Titsworth and Pat Morton and a five-member charter review commission will be chosen.

Morton said he had no comment when asked if he plans to run for re-election.

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