BRADENTON – Democrat Sundae Lynn Knight is challenging Republican Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore for her at-large seat on the board. The term is four years.
Whitmore, 55, has been an Island resident since 1969. She graduated from Manatee High School and attended Manatee Voc Tec. She received her LPN in 1977, her registered nurse certification in 1982 and became a certified risk manager in 1988.
While working full time as a nurse and office manager, she served as a Holmes Beach City Commissioner from 1991 to 1998 and as mayor from 1998 to 2006. She was elected to the county commission in 2006 and has devoted full time to the job.
She has served on numerous community boards and organizations. She is married to Dr. Andre Renard and has a daughter, a grandson, two stepdaughters and a stepson.
Knight, 39, an Air Force veteran, graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in civil engineering. She worked for Sarasota County as a bridge engineer. In 2008, she was certified as an energy manager and currently is the energy manager at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
She is a member of the Suncoast Branch of the American Society of Civic Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, Tau Beta Pi honor society and numerous other professional organizations.
Knight said she decided to run after responding to a call for candidates from the Sarasota-Manatee Young Dems and said she feels the citizens’ needs aren’t being met.
Q: How important is the Longboat Key trolley route and would you work to preserve it?
Whitmore: To me it’s part of our long-range transportation plan, and keeping it is very important for our community.
Knight: It’s an excellent tourist attraction, and it helps take cars off the road. I would work to preserve it.
Q: Do you think the county administrator is doing a good job?
Whitmore: I have noticed that his 17 department heads have the utmost respect for him. You very rarely see that in a big organization. He supports them and lets them do their jobs. Sometimes I don’t agree with him, but I can talk to him.
Knight: No. Particularly that he hired David Klement as organizational development manager without going through an open process and did not advertise the position. If there was a veteran qualified for the position, he/she should have gotten preference.
Q: Will you encourage the county commission to rebuild the pier at the public beach?
Whitmore: Yes. My word is my bond. The county administrator and Joe McClash as Tourist Development Council chair said we would replace it. But if the people all of a sudden say they don’t want it, I would support that.
Knight: I love fishing piers. I would try my best to make it happen. It may be difficult to secure funding, but you don’t stop because of that. Maybe they could consider a different design.
Q: Was the county’s process for selecting a concessionaire for the public beach flawed?
Whitmore: I can’t say it was flawed. In the past, we always renewed the contract and this time staff wanted to go to bid. I didn’t think it should have gone to bid. As a commissioner and mayor, I never had a complaint about the previous concessionaire.
Knight: Yes. I’ve gone through the bidding process over and over in the engineering world. You can’t go to one vendor and give them a chance to change their bid without giving all the vendors in the bidding pool the same opportunity. They need to compete on an equal playing field.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the county in the next four years?
Whitmore: Decreasing our unemployment and diversifying the job market such as with the port encouragement zone.
Knight: Attracting good paying jobs in industries that are respectful of the environment, evaluating the bureaucratic process to make the government more efficient and evaluating the county facilities to reduce their energy consumption.