HOLMES BEACH – Commissioner Rick Hurst has his eyes set on a second term after the November election and is hopeful that the city’s voters agree.
Hurst first took the dais as a commissioner in November 2017. With only three commission seats available and four candidates, Hurst is squaring off at the polls with incumbents Jim Kihm and Carol Soustek and newcomer Terry Schaefer. To help the voters get to know each candidate, The Sun sat down with Hurst to find out where he stands on the issues facing Holmes Beach. Here are his answers.
What should the voters know about you?
“I’m heavily involved in the community, I have kids, I’m hardworking. I think I’ve been a good commissioner. I take the job seriously and I do it because I want to serve my community and I intend to live here for the rest of my life.”
What has been your greatest accomplishment for the city?
“My greatest accomplishment for the city has been reversing the three-year waiting period between permits for ground-level properties… That would’ve been huge for these ground-level people. I don’t think anyone realizes how big that was. When I found out about that and started talking to real estate agents, even builders, and they said you’re basically going to just kill the ground level homes (with the three-year waiting period for 50% rule FEMA-compliant renovations). I think that would’ve been devastating. I also feel I bring my ability to see all sides of an issue and understand how it can impact the city both positively and negatively.”
What would you hope to accomplish in a new term as commissioner?
“Continue to focus on infrastructure issues and figure out how we can roll back or lower the millage rate. I was very disappointed when that didn’t happen this year. And continue to focus on community, bringing the community together.”
What is the biggest problem facing Holmes Beach?
“Infrastructure. Dealing with potential sea level rise, the cost of the infrastructure changes that are necessary for Holmes Beach, and that includes widening the sidewalks, bike paths, you have crumbling curbs in Key Royale. Dealing with potential sea level rise is very expensive and we have to make sure that we address those needs while trying to reduce the costs to the city… The other one I always look at is the people who live in the R-2 zone who want to live a quiet, happy life and then people who own properties that are trying to make money off those properties. That balance, finding the balance that is justifiable, fair, enforceable and can make the R-2 residents in those zones as happy as possible and that is a challenge.”
How would you fix it?
“The infrastructure has to be dealt with and we have to do it in a systematic manner that minimizes the cost to the residents and that means doing it in a way that we can maximize outside funding as much as possible, which we have been doing… As a commissioner, you try to deal with what’s fair and what’s right. And people do have a right to go to sleep and it be quiet but people spend a lot of money for a place and have a right to come and enjoy themselves and not be hassled by the police unless they’re totally out of hand… To me, it’s an educational thing… Infrastructure’s easy to solve. You just put money at it. The challenge is finding the money. But for this situation (noise issues in residential areas) it’s almost an impossible solution. We’ve just got to find the right solution.”
Do you think the residents have enough of a voice in city government?
“It’s so different than any other government. They vote, they can show up at the commission meetings. I believe that when people do speak at the commission meetings, we do hear what they say. I can’t think of many situations, if any, where people have spoken that has not made me think of how we can smartly accommodate them. Sometimes we don’t always accommodate but that’s because there are other factors.”
What is the most important part of being a Holmes Beach commissioner?
“Understanding the impact of every word of every piece of legislation on the entire city, every resident and the community around us. That’s what I try to do.”
Is there anything else you’d like the voters to know?
“I am raising a 12-year-old daughter. I am a managing partner of The Freckled Fin which makes me a Holmes Beach business owner. That provides me a unique perspective that none of the other commissioners or candidates have. And I’ve worked hard and done my best to do a good job for the city and I believe that I have.”