Commission candidates speak out on the issues

Holmes Beach commission candidates
Holmes Beach commission candidates Pat Morton, Don Purvis and Kim Rash answer questions from Sun readers during the 2018 candidate forum. - Gail Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – It’s getting closer to November and the day when residents will go out to the polls to cast their vote for who will take the two available seats on the city commission.

To help voters make their decision, The Sun hosted its 2018 candidate forum Sept. 19 at Holmes Beach City Hall with candidates Pat Morton, Don Purvis and Kim Rash. Candidate answers to some of the top questions asked are below. To hear the entire forum, visit The Sun Facebook page.

What, in your opinion, is the job of a commissioner?

Morton: “My theory of being a commissioner for a few years now is that I talk with the citizens and with the community. If they come to me with something, I work with them to try to get the best for each.”

Purvis: “I believe the responsibility of the job is truly to represent all the residents here and I think that requires somebody who is moving in multiple different circles, knows a lot of different people, is involved in different aspects of our community and whether that’s understanding what’s going on with small business or what’s going on right now in R-2, in R-1, what’s going on, all of those things matter.”

Rash: “To represent the residents of Holmes Beach. To listen to them and see what their needs are as a resident.”

If elected, what are your top three priorities to tackle?

Morton: “My big thing is infrastructure. It was let go for so many years. Now we’re in the process of getting it processed through. The second, my biggest thing is bicycle and pedestrian safety… the life safety of the Island. We need to get beach accesses opened up, so they can go to pick somebody up.”

Purvis: “Well I would say for me that number one is, as we look at the impact tourism has had on our city for all of us, where that is, where it’s been, where it is now, and, most importantly, where that’s headed and how to responsibly move forward in that manner. Number two, right now for me is infrastructure… third for me is pedestrian/cyclist safety.”

Rash: “Again, I think the top three things all have to do with residents. One, I’ve been out walking and talking and what I’ve been hearing the past couple weeks is all about property taxes. How their property taxes just keep going up and if they don’t raise the millage their property value goes up so they’re writing a larger check this year than they did last year…The other thing is a peaceful way of life for the residents… the third thing is I think we need tighter restrictions for the demo of properties and the building of new houses to make sure they’re built right and they’re not inconveniencing the whole neighborhood while they’re building them.”

What do you see as the hardest task the city has to deal with right now?

Morton: “I would say the rental program, getting that up to where it needs to be.”

Purvis: “I would say the biggest challenge… is cooperation.”

Rash: “I think keeping residents is the hardest task the city has to deal with right now.”

Are there issues that you think the city isn’t handling effectively? How do you propose to improve the city’s approach?

Morton: “We’re working things through, but it takes time to get there.”

Purvis: “Well, you know, the issue that probably jumps out biggest to me and this is once again, not a knock against anybody, it’s just that in my business every day I see vacation renters, I see people come in to purchase property, wanting, having the same dream we did of having the opportunity to live here one day and I realize that the best way to get a lot of these people who come to our city to understand what is expected of them is to get ahold of them before they get here.”

Rash: “The biggest things they have to deal with is the traffic.”

How would you describe your city to a stranger?

Morton: “I think we have a very friendly city here. The people here are very into what’s going on and I think we’re in tune to what’s going on.”

Purvis: “It’s paradise. There’s a reason why when we stumbled upon it we made sure to find a way to make this where we would end up.”

Rash: “We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world right here. It’s just an unbelievable place to relax, unwind and breathe in the salt air. It’s just a great place to call home.”

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