Four qualify in Holmes Beach

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HOLMES BEACH – Qualifying week is officially over, and four candidates are posed to fight it out in the polls Nov. 5 to see which of them will take the three commission seats up for grabs.

Incumbents Rick Hurst, Jim Kihm and Carol Soustek have all qualified and are hoping to retake their seats on the dais after the dust settles from the election. Challenging the incumbents is newcomer Terry Shaefer.

Four qualify in Holmes Beach
Commissioners Jim Kihm, Carol Soustek and Rick Hurst all hope to keep their seats on the dais after the November election. – Kristin Swain | Sun

If Shaefer’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he served in 2018 as one of eight members of a city-formed ad hoc committee studying Holmes Beach’s form of government. Ultimately, the committee determined that a city manager form of government, versus a strong mayor and commission government like the city currently has, would be in the city’s best interests.

After months of meetings and a presentation to city commissioners, the commission ultimately decided to place the decision of whether or not to put the city manager question on the ballot in the hands of the 2019 charter review commission. Charter review commissioners did not have the supermajority vote of members required to put the question on the November ballot.

If re-elected, this will be Kihm’s second term as a commissioner. He currently serves as the commission chair and legislative liaison, keeping his fellow commissioners apprised of what issues in Tallahassee may affect local regulations.

Re-election would also mean a second term for Hurst, who serves as the city’s liaison to The Center of Anna Maria Island, where he also volunteers as a youth sports coach, and Anna Maria Elementary School. Hurst also is a local business owner, having a partial ownership stake in The Freckled Fin restaurant in Holmes Beach. Hurst was first elected in November 2017.

For Soustek, re-election would mean her third full term on the dais. After first being appointed to the commission in November 2014 to fill the unexpired term of former Commissioner David Zaccagnino, she was elected to the commission in 2015 and again in 2017. Soustek currently serves as the commission’s code compliance liaison.

In addition to electing or re-electing commissioners, Holmes Beach voters also will have eight questions on the ballot proposed by the charter review commission. Each question represents a proposed change to the city’s charter.

Voters will go to the polls on Nov. 5. For more information about the election or to register to vote, visit the Manatee County elections office.