Anna Maria voters will be selecting a new mayor from among two candidates: Sandy Mattick and Mike Selby.
Mattick has lived in the city for seven years and is the mother of two high school-age girls. She has an extensive background in governmental service with the IRS, FBI and as the administrative officer for Federal Prosecutor Ken Star, positions in which she cites her experience managing governmental operations and budgets. Mattick has been a member of several boards and committees, including the planning and zoning board, of which she is vice-chair.
Selby has also lived in Anna Maria for the past seven years. He’s a Vietnam vet with 30 year’s experience in business. He and his wife, Mary, have three children and three grand children. Selby is active on the board at Roser Memorial Community Church as well as Key Royale Golf Course.
We asked each candidate a series of questions. Here are their answers:
Q: The community has become deeply divided over the past year. What could you, as mayor, do to heal some of these deep divisions?
Mattick: A big goal is to establish better communication between the commission and residents. We need to get the facts out there. It’s been business against resident this past year, and that doesn’t have to be. It’s about the balance between residential and business interests. We’ve seen a lack of understanding about the others’ point of view. But if we will listen to each other, we’ll see we all want the same thing, which is what’s best for the community we all love.
Selby: There shouldn’t be this pro business or anti-business discussion. I think we are all here for the same reasons – to live in this wonderful Anna Maria. I don’t want to go into the past (conflicts.) As mayor, I’d just hope that at the end of the day we could agree to disagree about some things and work together to make things work. We’ve seen friend pitted against friend and neighbor pitted against neighbor. We need to begin talking to each other again.
Q: That divisiveness has been costly in terms of attorney’s fees, costs for the planner and other experts. What would you do to lower those expenses?
Mattick: Again, everybody needs to understand and communicate and lots of these lawsuits will go away. It’s clear that we need better communication with residents, among residents and even amongst commissioners, so we can work together. The mayor brings for issues and communicates with the residents. The mayor listens to everyone’s concerns and finds a way for people to work together.
Selby: If I were mayor, I’d look at both consultants and all employees. Maybe forming an ad hoc committee to work with me and give me guidance would help to get a grip on these costs. If we listen to both sides, we can avoid lawsuits.
Q: A moratorium is in place currently for the coastal conservation zone, prohibiting even repairs to existing properties. How would you help deal with this issue?
Mattick: This problem is mostly in the hands of the commissioners. One of my big issues is individual property rights. It’s a mistake to take property rights, which was what happened with the current comp plan. We need to restore those property rights. If you take away property rights, you are looking at big expensive lawsuits. We should return the rules to what they were with the 1989 comp plan.
Selby: I’m obviously for conservation, as we all should be in this day and age, particularly in Anna Maria. Once again, as I understand it, the commission is going back to the 2007 policy. Whatever the commission decides is the policy. And then it’s up to the mayor to institute it.
Q: What do you think is the single most important issue facing the city at this time?
Mattick: The divisiveness and the lawsuits.
Selby: It’s back to communication. I think we need to bring all sides to the table. No one’s anti-business. We’re all pro businesses. It’s not the residents against the businesses. Not a single person that lives in Anna Maria is against business. I hope the olive oil (Anna Maria Olive Oil Outpost) lady makes a million dollars. I hope Mike and Susan (Brinson) make a million dollars. Let’s come together for a change. As good as we are divided, think how much better we can be if we all work together.
Q: Do you think the Pine Avenue plan is a dead issue?
Mattick: The development on Pine Avenue is at an early stage. We need to come up with some sort of parking on our only business street. The ordinance always said parking was allowed on that street, and then the city started using the rules for the commercial zone for the residential/office/retail district. If we want to save these old cottages, we need to be flexible. And I do think the sidewalks should be moved forward. Placing sidewalks behind cars is a mistake. I would like to see a walkable street. It could be beautiful. I think the residents would like it. This truly is a district meant to cater to the people of Anna Maria.
Selby: The city commission voted that down. With the makeup of a new commission, it may come alive again. I think it (the corridor plan) has a lot of flaws that would have to be addressed before I would support it. I think that the parking on the street there would force traffic onto the residential streets surrounding Pine Avenue, and that’s not fair to the people who live there.
Q: What do you think of the suggestion that placing a tollbooth at the entrance of the city to raise money to run the Anna Maria?
Mattick: It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. You can’t just put a booth at the entrance to Anna Maria. People talk about raising money, but it would cost a whole lot more to build the booth, staff it, provide benefits to the workers. It would be a nightmare to administer and think how unwelcome everyone would feel. I’d be embarrassed to have someone have to pay a toll to come visit me.
Selby: I’d like to think that suggestion was made tongue in cheek.