Kihm, Soustek keep seats, newcomer Schaefer eases in

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Holmes Beach Commissioners Jim Kihm, left, and Terry Schaefer, along with Kihm’s son Greg, Commissioner Carol Soustek, Kihm’s daughter Gretchen Strub and Holmes Beach resident David Cheshire, take a break Nov. 5 from campaigning outside of the city polling station at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach. Islander Photos: Chris Ann Silver Esformes
Ed Upshaw, who chaired the Holmes Beach Charter Review Commission, left, and newly elected Holmes Beach Commissioner Terry Schaefer shake hands Nov. 5 at Vinny’s Italian Kitchen in Holmes Beach, during Schaefer’s celebration following the city election. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
Manatee County Commissioner and Holmes Beach resident Carol Whitmore, left, poses Nov. 5 with Holmes Beach Commissioner Carol Soustek outside the polling location, St. Bernard Catholic Church.
Newly elected Holmes Beach Commissioner Terry Schaefer and his wife, Vicky, pose following the Nov. 5 vote at a victory celebration at Vinny’s Italian Kitchen, 5337 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Four people were vying Nov. 5 for three seats on the Holmes Beach dais.

And, when all was said and done on Election Day, Commissioners Jim Kihm and Carol Soustek and political newcomer Terry Schaefer were the top vote-getters.

Rick Hurst lost his bid for re-election.

For the three seats on the commission, 658 voted to re-elect Kihm, 606 voted for Schaefer and 546 voted for Soustek, while 471 voted for Hurst.

“I’m thrilled,” Schaefer said of his win in the nonpartisan race. “The campaign was really all-encompassing and I learned about issues I’d never considered from the variety of people I spoke with.”

Schaefer, a retired senior bank manager, said many people asked him about the city budget during his campaign.

“One of my campaign objectives was to be a steward of the budget and provide financial oversight based on my background,” he said.

Schaefer served as an elected school board member for 16 years in Illinois and also 12 years as a governor’s appointee to the Southwestern Illinois Development Authority.

“From my experience on other boards, I am familiar with the process and realize we all benefit from finding solutions together, instead of finding ways to oppose others’ views.”

Kihm, who received the most votes, said he was “extremely pleased” with the election outcome.

“The vote certainly marked that people recognize I am doing a good job for them and am planning to continue this through my next term,” Kihm said.

After being elected in 2017, Kihm served as commission chair in 2018-19.

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “But these last two years have been very busy — we passed a lot of ordinances after good debate and discussion. Hopefully, this will continue for the next two years.”

Soustek also said she is excited to continue her work for the city. She was appointed to the commission for a partial term in 2014, then elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2017.

“I’m very happy that they voted me back in,” Soustek said. “I like what I do and we have so much still going on.”

Hurst, who was elected to his first term in 2017, said he’d hoped to retain his seat but is satisfied with the results.

“As a candidate, I am disappointed that I entered into this election knowing that other ventures I have recently taken on made it impossible to focus on the election, run an effective campaign, and would have possibly hindered my effectiveness if I had been elected,” he wrote in a Nov. 6 statement to The Islander.

Hurst is part owner of the Freckled Fin Irish Pub, 5337 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

He said he considered not running, but wanted an election because campaigning encourages interested candidates to engage with the community.

“In the end, I think it turned out for the best,” he wrote. “I hope future commissions will be as effective as we have been for the last two years.”
Of 2,692 registered voters in Holmes Beach,

490 cast ballots on Election Day, Nov. 5, at precinct No. 305, St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, and 402 voted by mail.

The turnout percentage was 33.14%.

The swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected officials will be at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.