Anna Maria candidates
Former Mayor SueLynn and planning and zoning board member Nancy Yetter are challenging incumbent Commissioners John Quam and Dale Woodland in this year's commission election. Voters go to the polls at Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., on Nov. 8.
SueLynn served as the city's mayor from 2002 to 2006 and is seeking her first term on the commission.
She grew up in Ohio and received a BFA from Ohio University and a master's degree in speech pathology from the University of Arizona. She has worked in organizational development as a management and organizational consultant. She moved to Anna Maria in the early 1990s.
"I went to commission meetings and was appalled at what was going on,' she recalled. "I ran for mayor because of my training and working with people so they could be more productive.
"I naively thought if I got elected I could use the same skills I used in the private sector and apply them to government."
Some of the accomplishments during her terms as mayor were taking out a loan for drainage and road projects, starting the process of reviewing the city's comprehensive plan and codes, remodeling city hall, upgrading the city's computer technology, passing a personal wireless facility ordinance and writing the initial proposal that resulted in the pier boardwalk project.
Regarding the comp plan, she noted, "I believe they didn't realize the importance of the comp plan as the underpinning of all our rules and regulations."
Her big concern is the loss of full-time residents in the city and she pointed out, "An excellent job has been done attracting tourists to support our businesses, but at the same time, nothing was being done to ensure we maintained the residential nature of the city.
"We need to take actions to reverse that trend but keep it a preferred tourist destination at the same time. We need to find alternative ways to bring in revenue and for me, that means finding some way for the city to profit from the number of rentals we have."
John Quam is seeking his sixth term as a commissioner and has served as its chairman for seven of his years in office.
Quam has a bachelor's degree in business management from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. For 35 years, he worked in marketing with BASF, the world's largest chemical company. He retired to Anna Maria with his wife, Birgit in 1997.
"John Michaels (a former commissioner) was instrumental in getting me involved and got me to run in 2002," Quam recalled. "After I attended some of the meetings and saw what went on, I wanted to bring some civility back to the commission."
Quam authored the beach corridor parking plan and observed, "Previous commissions studied this for 25 years and couldn't resolve it. I came up with different plans, and they kept getting voted down. Then I came up with a compromise that was approved."
Other commission accomplishments since he's been in office include approving a charter amendment requiring a super majority vote for comprehensive plan amendments, approving a personal wireless facility ordinance, revising the comprehensive plan, completing major drainage and road projects, streamlining the budget process and approving the Pine Avenue parking plan.
"During my nine years, the budget process was one of the most important things, but it was quite controversial for the first six years. We got it into a realistic working document that set the foundation for the process we have today."
Quam's goal for the coming years is "to preserve or improve upon the policies we've adopted over the years and adopt new regulations in the best interest of the city.
"I want to make sure we maintain the single-family character and support the business district. We need to keep a balance on the commission, and I think I bring that."
Dale Woodland has served four terms as commissioner and is liaison to the capital improvement advisory committee.
He was born in Canada and moved to Bradenton Beach in the early 50s, then to Anna Maria a couple of years later. He attended local schools and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Florida. He worked in computers before retiring and opening Woodland Quality Pool Care in 1995.
"I've always been consistent in holding people's feet to the fire regarding density and intensity," he said. "They are the most important things that contribute to the quality of life in our community."
Accomplishments include getting four handicap parking spaces on Gulf Boulevard, starting the Lake LaVista dredging in 1988 and obtaining grants for the drainage projects.
One of the issues he hopes to tackle in the coming years is retirement and health care costs for employees.
He said in the 1970s, benefits in the private sector were superior to benefits in the public sector, but that reversed in the mid-1990s.
"I'm looking at it from a realistic standpoint, but you have to be fair," he said. "In every government the benefits are increasing faster that the budgets. To pay those increasing benefits, something else has to get smaller."
He said he also would like to investigate alternative revenue sources such as the public/private partnership in purchasing the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.
"Visitors use our infrastructure, and I'm looking at some way to voluntarily get revenue from them," he explained. "Maybe we could add a 2 percent surcharge on every purchase, 1 percent from the business and 1 percent from the buyer. Another source would be the rentals. We need to initiate the thinking and look at opportunities."
Nancy Yetter has been a member of the planning and zoning board for about two years and is seeking her first term as commissioner.
Yetter grew up in Indianapolis and received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Indianapolis. She was circulation director for Indianapolis Magazine before moving to Tampa to become circulation statistics director for Time Warner and then went into sales management for a food manufacturer.
During that time, she and her husband, Mike, vacationed on Anna Maria and fell in love. In 2007, they built their home on the Park Avenue property they purchased 15 years prior. That same year, Mike became a member of the planning and zoning board, but when his office relocated, he was unable to continue.
"We talked a lot about issues that came before the board," she said. "After he left the board, I volunteered to be on it. It's been a big learning experience. You learn to leave emotion out of it and go by the rules."
She said one reason she is running for office is because she was raised to give back to the community and noted, "I felt the commission was a good match to my experience on the P&Z. I can bring new energy and focus, which I feel is needed at this time.
She feels there should be a limit of two terms for commissioners.
"I think after a while, you get blinders on and don't keep your mind open to trying to find solutions to problems. You do things because they've always been done the same way. You have to keep and open mind and be creative.
"I've always kept up with issues and discussed them with people in the community. I feel I'm up to date on all the issues and how they've been handled in the past."
Holmes Beach candidates
Three Holmes Beach city commission incumbents and two former candidates are running for three commission seats up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Pat Morton is seeking his fifth term, Al Robinson, his second, and David Zaccagnino, his fourth. Jean Peelen ran in 2010, and Andy Sheridan ran in 2009.
Big rental houses pushing out city residents is the biggest issue the city faces, according to Holmes Beach Commissioner Pat Morton.
Morton said he voted against changes in the land development code that enabled property owners to build the houses.
"I predicted this, but they didn't listen," he said.
A proponent of recycling, Morton is proud that the city has an 80 percent recycling rate and reminds residents to recycle old phone books at the collection station at city hall field.
A Holmes Beach resident with his wife, Gailene, since 1994, he is administrator of CrossPointe Fellowship Church.
Morton has served as city liaison for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, Keep Manatee Beautiful, Waste Management, the Island Emergency Operations Center, the Manatee County Emergency Operation Center and the Communities for a Lifetime program.
He currently serves as city liaison for Waste Management, the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center and the public works department.
Residents are taking a back seat to tourism, and it's a "tragedy in the making," said Jean Peelen, who is running for a second time for a Holmes Beach Commission seat.
"When I started knocking on doors on Sept. 1 to campaign, I realized I didn't know the half of it," she said. "People are outraged at the huge duplex houses built for tourists only. They are destroying neighborhoods."
The current commission has addressed the issue only tangentially, primarily because of problems with renters leaving garbage cans out, she said.
"We have got to stop it now," Peelen said. "We have to take care of the damages from the ones that were already built."
The commission should invite residents to interact by e-mail, Facebook or community meetings, not just at poorly-attended commission meetings, said Peelen, who attends most commission meetings as an observer.
Peelen works as a consultant, writer, model, actress, workshop leader and personal coach. She previously worked as a civil rights lawyer for the federal government, as chief of staff of the International Broadcasting Bureau and as a keynote conference speaker.
She was a finalist on the "Survivor" television show and is co-author of two books, "Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50," and "Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50."
Holmes Beach Commissioner Al Robinson said he is running again because big box rental houses continue to cause problems.
"That's been a festering sore that's come to life," he said. "It took us a little while to get on top of it, but we're on top of it with both feet."
Robinson said he is pleased with fellow commissioners, except on financial issues.
"I come from a background of always doing for myself, and I've had to be thrifty and make good choices," said Robinson, who formerly owned a West Virginia coal mine and D. Coy Ducks in Holmes Beach. He now works in real estate and investments.
"When it's somebody else's money, it's easy to say, 'Let's give it to them,' " he said, citing the commission's recent vote favoring police pensions he considers too high.
"I think we're out of control on some financial things in the city," he said. "I used to complain, and I decided to shut up and try to change it."
Robinson is the city liaison for buildings and grounds, the Holmes Beach Police Department, Communities for a Lifetime, the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and the Manatee County Council of Governments.
Quality of life issues are key for candidate Andy Sheridan, who has run once before for a Holmes Beach Commission seat.
"I have been a voice and will continue to be a voice in determining which direction our local government is going to take," said Sheridan, who attends most commission meetings and is a member of the Holmes Beach Code Enforcement Board. He also serves as vice president of the Key Royale Resident Owners Association.
"I was very involved in the garbage ordinance last year," said Sheridan, adding that garbage is one of several issues that have residents up in arms over large rental homes.
"I'm distressed that the last remaining affordable housing on the Island for the service industry folks is being torn down for rental properties," said Sheridan, a sales clerk who has previously worked in auto sales, banking, as a limousine company manager, a pool technician and for Publix.
Sheridan said that business opportunities abound in Holmes Beach, especially in the service industry, but that not all businesses are appropriate for a residential community.
Sheridan has volunteered with All Islands Denominations Food Pantry, Keep Manatee Beautiful cleanup campaigns and the Island Community Center Tour of Homes, and is a blood donor.
The city's most pressing issue is the increase in rental properties and the problems they cause residents, according to Commissioner David Zaccagnino.
Otherwise, "The commission has done a good job with keeping services up and keeping costs down," said Zaccagnino, who works as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial in Sarasota and was previously with Morgan Stanley in Bradenton.
Too many tax dollars go off the Island to Manatee County, he said.
"I'm pretty proud of being the only city on the Island to increase our tree canopy," said Zaccagnino, who currently serves as the city's liaison to the Police Pension Board and the Parks and Beautification Committee, where he previously served as chair. While he served on the commission, the city has created pocket parks, planted memorial trees and beautified Kingfish park.
A Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board member, Zaccagnino also is a member of the Rotary Club and Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.
He has served as the Holmes Beach liaison to the Chamber, Anna Maria Elementary School and the Island Community Center Board.
He has a B.S. degree in chemical science and an M.B.A. from Florida State University and once was a chemical analyst for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.