HOLMES BEACH – The Nov. 2 election is almost upon us and Holmes Beach voters have to decide between five candidates to fill three seats on the city commission – incumbent Commissioners Terry Schaefer and Carol Soustek, newcomer Renee Ferguson and former commissioners John Monetti and Pat Morton.
Continuing The Sun’s series on how the candidates feel about issues facing the city, this week the five commission candidates are answering the question, “How do you feel about a city manager in Holmes Beach?” in their own words.
“I am aware that people have different perspectives on this issue; that is an essential part of democracy. At this time, I feel our city is in good hands. If the situation should change, I believe this would need to be put before the voters. As the city moves through many changes, we must always focus on what is best for the city at the time in this fluid situation.”
“I would preface my response with the recognition that I do not have all the current information available since I currently am not a city commissioner. My feelings on the topics reflect topical knowledge though I do stay abreast of these issues as an interested resident.
I don’t feel we have a need for one at this point but every idea deserves a look.”
“I have a lot of respect for the balance that the charter allows us. I would leave a change of this magnitude up to the charter review committee to consider. This is an elected board. If they feel a change is needed, it would be up to them to draft a referendum to be placed on the ballot. At this time, I think our mayor is doing a great job.”
“I served on the city’s ad-hoc committee which studied the various forms of government in Florida. That experience resulted in a full understanding of the city manager form, strong mayor form, which our charter presently specifies, and the two other forms also allowed. I believe the city manager form has numerous benefits, especially in communities with little or no capable citizen interest and capabilities in serving occurs. City managers bring a specifically degreed person with municipal experience to manage the city’s operations. I believe when and if we reach a period where no qualified citizen with proper capabilities and commitment occurs, that the city manager form would be a viable option. I am not convinced that is the case presently for the following reasons: The balance between a non-voting mayor with veto power, combined with the five commissioners with legislative responsibilities, balances authority concerns. Mayors are elected by the people and serve two-year terms. City managers are hired by the consensus of five commissioners, have no veto power unless provided for by city charter, and can be extended or fired by a simple majority of the commission. For example, Manatee County’s decision by three new commissioners with the support of the chair who fired what the public and county staff considered to be a very loyal and effective county administrator. Presently, we have strong leadership at each department head position, all of whom report to the mayor for overall management. In my opinion, the city is operating effectively with specific expertise at each department and a community-oriented mayor. Discussion of the options is healthy and it would take the consensus vote of registered voters to ultimately decide with a structural change to our city charter.”
“Good and bad. Some city managers have done wonderful for their cities, just as some mayors have done wonderful things for their cities. I believe that if the person knows the city and brings their best talents to guide the city and community well, then it is the person, not the title, that the community needs.”
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