HOLMES BEACH – Commissioner Jim Kihm is running for his second term in office and he’s hoping that the city’s voters stand behind him.
Kihm was first elected to the city commission in November 2017 and was elected by his fellow commissioners to serve as commission chair in November 2018.
Including Kihm, there are four commission candidates in Holmes Beach – incumbents Rick Hurst and Carol Soustek and newcomer Terry Schaefer. To help the voters get to know each one better, The Sun is conducting an interview with each candidate to find out where they stand on the issues. Here are Kihm’s answers.
What should the voters know about you?
“They should know that I am very committed to this city since moving here. This is my home. I feel very passionate about it and I’m willing to work hard for them should they re-elect me to the commission.”
What has been your greatest accomplishment for the city?
“I can’t point to one thing. My approach is using common sense and good judgment in reviewing the issues before the commission and hopefully we’ve come up with some good decisions and ordinances as a result.”
What would you hope to accomplish in a new term as commissioner?
“I think just continuing on some of the themes that I had during the first term. I’m very pleased to have served as legislative liaison for the city and a couple of my key items are to continue lobbying for a fair share of the tourist development tax to come back to the city to offset some of the impact that the number of tourists has on our city. The other thing is that I’m a proponent of home rule. I think that those issues that affect us locally should be decided here and not in Tallahassee.”
What is the biggest problem facing Holmes Beach?
“Right now, I think it’s the Bert Harris claims that have been filed against the city. Again it’s a result of some action that the commissioners took in response to an outreach by the residents to see if there isn’t some way we can try to contain some of the outsized development that’s happened, the big party houses if you will, and to try to limit that growth going forward. As a consequence of that action, several of the residents here have decided to file suit, making Bert Harris claims about their development rights being impacted. I think that’s the biggest thing that’s facing the city in the near term.”
How would you fix it?
“I think again the commission has made its decision that we need to limit the size of houses going forward and, as far as the Bert Harris claims, that’s in litigation and I really can’t comment at this time.”
Do you think the residents have enough of a voice in city government?
“I think they have an opportunity to have a voice. I know I have reached out to many of them on my campaign and going out and trying to meet as many of the residents as I can, encourage them to reach out to me and the other city commissioners if they have something that’s on their mind and certainly to attend our city commission meetings, email us and so on to let us know what they’re thinking and what action we should take on their behalf.”
Some say the city’s budget needs to be cut. Do you agree? How would you address this issue?
“I think we need to be mindful that the taxes that we raise come from the people of the city. So, we need to be mindful of how we’re spending those dollars. At the same time, we’ve got some unique challenges in front of us in the near term, the Bert Harris claims being one, so we’ve increased our reserves, our legal reserves for defending those claims. The other one is the infrastructure problems that we have throughout the city. I’ve asked for an update from the city engineer at the Oct. 22 meeting to really get our hands around the magnitude of how big is the problem, how much is it going to cost, how long it is going to take before I think the commission can vote on a proper… what an appropriate increase to our stormwater fees should be.”
What is the most important part of being a Holmes Beach commissioner?
“The most important part I would say is first of all representing the residents and the businesses here in the city. And secondly, is to thoughtfully consider any changes that we make to our city government, whether it be an ordinance that we’re thinking about or a change to our fee structure. You really need to think long and hard about those and what the impacts are. Is it a good change and is it necessary? Is it in the best interests of our citizens to make a change in the first place?”
Is there anything else you’d like the voters to know?
“I’d like them to know I take the job very seriously. I do my homework. I come prepared to all commission meetings. I’ve read the materials. I’ve tried to reach out to people to get their input to help me form my opinion about the various issues before I go into a commission meeting and we take a vote on a particular topic.”