BRADENTON BEACH – City Commission candidates Ralph Cole, Marilyn Maro, Tjet Martin and John Metz recently shared their thoughts on their campaigns and the issues the City Commission deals with.
Cole and Maro currently serve on the commission, and Martin and Metz are trying to unseat them.
Some of the candidate’s answers to The Sun’s questions ran in last week’s issue and here are some more of the candidates’ views.
What qualifications and experience do you/would you bring to the commission?
Cole: I’ve been a commissioner for three years. I chair the CRA, I’m a property owner, I’m a business owner, I’ve been a resident for 39 years and my father was mayor.
Maro: I’ve been a commissioner and CRA member for two years. I’ve been in business, and I’ve taught intercity vocational education. I listen well, and I think before I act.
Martin: I know our ruling documents. I was Scenic WAVES chair getting projects completed. I have regularly participated in city matters. I am an independent thinker.
Metz: Doctor of Laws degree, three-plus years on the Planning and Zoning Board, 10 years on the city of Oceanside Beach and Harbor Advisory committee with five years as chairperson and managing two successful businesses.
What are your thoughts on the commission’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget?
Cole: I’ve done three budgets, and we’ve been going in the right direction. We’ve got stability, we’re not going broke and our staff does a really good job with the budget.
Maro: We’ve done an excellent job on the budget, and we’re in real good shape.
Martin: I have concerns that it will be a balanced budget. I don’t think there was enough money allocated for neighborhood improvements.
Metz: No tax increase is needed or should occur.
If you could complete one city and/or CRA project in the next two years what would it be?
Cole: The undergrounding of the power lines on Bridge Street, finishing the day dock, adding finger docks and creating a living shoreline.
Maro: The underground wiring, the design vision of Emily Anne Smith and the seagrass mitigation near the pier.
Martin: Improvements at Katie Pierola Park and the anchorage in the CRA district.
Metz: Mooring field.
Should the City Commission retain the sole authority to hire and fire department heads and the charter officials that include the city clerk, city attorney and police chief?
Cole: If we allowed a city manager to hire and fire our city department heads or anybody else, every two years we could end up with new staff. Right now, we have good stability, and we know what we’re working with.
Maro: Yes. I think it should be a group decision made by the commission.
Martin: Not as a whole, but together with city manager recommendations.
What thoughts do you have on the still pending Sunshine Law lawsuit the commission filed against six former city advisory board members in 2017?
(Metz and Martin are among the six defendants named in the lawsuit that alleges Sunshine Law violations were committed by Planning and Zoning Board and Scenic WAVES Committee members.)
Cole: I didn’t ask any of our advisory board members to go out and have meetings outside of city hall. I felt that when CNOBB did their charter amendment initiatives I couldn’t participate in those meetings without fear of breaking the Sunshine Law. I believe the transparency of the Sunshine Law is very serious.
Maro: That’s up to the judge and the attorneys.
Martin: The commission should have followed resolution 16-853 that deals with board and committee members, or the state ethics commission could have done the investigation.
Metz: The case should never have been brought and will cause financial loss to the city. The situation was totally mismanaged, misjudged and such drastic measures against volunteers was avoidable.
If elected, how would being a defendant in the lawsuit impact your ability to serve as a commissioner?
Martin: It wouldn’t.
Metz: None. I would recuse myself on any vote about it.
If elected, would you seek a commission vote to dismiss the lawsuit or would you want the case to move forward so a judge can determine if the alleged Sunshine violations occurred?
Martin: I want the case to be settled as quickly as possible.
Metz: I would recuse myself on any vote concerning it.