BRADENTON BEACH – Incumbent commissioners Ralph Cole and Marilyn Maro, former Scenic WAVES Committee chair Tjet Martin and former Planning and Zoning Board member John Metz are competing for the two at-large commission seats to be decided in the upcoming city elections.
In lieu of a candidate’s forum, all four candidates were provided with a list of campaign questions. These are some of the questions and answers, with more to come as part of The Sun’s ongoing campaign coverage.
Why do you want to serve on the Bradenton Beach City Commission?
Cole: “Because I don’t agree with the direction two of my opponents want to take our city in.”
Maro: “I want to serve another term to keep our projects moving forward.”
Martin: “To give the residents a stronger voice and focus on their needs and our environmental and safety issues.”
Metz: “To create a better experience for our residents by focusing on their needs and goals, rather than on the commercialization of our city.”
Do you support the candidacy of any other candidate?
Cole: “Yes, I support Marilyn.”
Maro: “Yes, but I’m not going to say who it is.”
Martin: “Yes, John Metz.”
Metz: “Yes, Tjet Martin.”
What have you accomplished during your current term in office?
Cole: “We passed legislation so you can’t put a multi-level, stand-alone parking structure in any part of the city; we’re working on our drainage issues and we made good policies for the CRA.”
Maro: “I kept the building moratorium going for more than a year. I’m the liaison for the cell tower and Scenic WAVES. I listened carefully and made good and fair decisions.”
If elected, what would you do differently than the current commissioners?
Martin: “I will stay on top of projects that come before us. I want to make sure they get done correctly.”
Metz: “Focus on our residents’ needs and infrastructure to provide a better living experience to retain our residents and their quality of life.”
What are the most important issues facing the commission in the next two years?
Cole: “Drainage improvements, keeping our employees, maintaining the character of our city and protecting our city charter that’s been under attack from people trying to change it.”
Maro: “Improving the drainage and roads, upgrading our city buildings, staying on point and getting along as a commission.”
Martin: “Our residents’ quality of life. Better oversight of expenses and projects.”
Metz: “Restoring and reinforcing the residential quality of life in the city.”
What are the most important issues facing the CRA in the next two years?
Cole: “The undergrounding of the power lines and finishing the day dock.”
Maro: “The underground wiring, the design vision of Emily Anne Smith and seagrass mitigation near the pier.”
Martin: “Anchorage control, safety on Gulf Drive, better resident representation in the distribution of funds.”
Metz: “Mooring field.”
Do you think the city should hire a city manager?
Cole: “Not at this time. I think it would destabilize our city.”
Maro: “Definitely not.”
Martin: “Yes, we need an impartial professional who lays out all options and follows our laws – someone who knows how to write contracts, get grants and avoid lawsuits.”
What thoughts do you have on the charter amendments proposed by the Charter Review Committee?
Cole: “When you’re going to change your charter, do it in the Sunshine at city hall and get public input. This group did a good job, and they came out wanting to put the four wards back in. I support that.”
Maro: “I like the ward system. It keeps the power balanced.”
Martin: “I think the CRC was rushed. I don’t think the process was independently thought out.”
Metz: “Maintain at-large elections, not wards, and maintain (create) a city manager form of government.”
How would assess the city’s drainage projects and what more should be done to address flooding?
Cole: “We have to make sure whatever we do works, is maintainable without a big tax burden and is appealing. Fixing the outfalls into the bay and installing more WaStop valves would help. When you get torrential downpours you need that overflow so it doesn’t back up into people’s houses and yards. And we have to address standing water so we don’t have mosquito problems.”
Maro: “The stormwater projects are moving along, but it’s going to take time. It’s getting better, and we have a good engineer. We’re going to restore the driveways on Avenue C, and I recommended those property owners not have to pay for those permits.”
Martin: “Poor. Fix the residential areas. Bridge Street is a mess when it rains because of the project that was done and now must be fixed. Again.”
Metz: “The projects have generally failed and have not been maintained.”
Do you feel the Transient Public Lodging Establishment (vacation rental) ordinance has been effective in addressing concerns about vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods?
Cole: “The state made it very difficult for local governments that did not have the wherewithal to prohibit rentals of less than 30 days in residential areas before 2011. All we can do now is regulate for noise, trash and parking, and we haven’t had any Bert Harris claims.”
Maro: “The TPLE is working, but it’s going to take time. It’s given everyone a better understanding of our citizens’ rights.”
Martin: “No, to this day on opposite ends of the city I get people telling me there are large parties.”
What more can be done?
Cole: “We all knew we may have to tweak our ordinance and we probably will.”
Maro: “We’re going to have to get together with the realtors that manage them because I think that’s where the problem lies. We need to have more input from the people that are renting them out.”
Martin: “Task the planner and the Planning and Zoning Board to look into additional regulations. More enforcement of the TPLE.”
Metz: “Reinstate the moratorium and reduce house size or capacity. Enforce the existing noise and trash laws.”