The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 2 - October 13, 2010


Knight challenges Whitmore for county seat

BRADENTON – Democrat Sundae Lynn Knight is challenging Republican Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore for her at-large seat on the board. The term is four years.

Whitmore Whitmore, 55, has been an Island resident since 1969. She graduated from Manatee High School and attended Manatee Voc Tec. She received her LPN in 1977, her registered nurse certification in 1982 and became a certified risk manager in 1988.

While working full time as a nurse and office manager, she served as a Holmes Beach City Commissioner from 1991 to 1998 and as mayor from 1998 to 2006. She was elected to the county commission in 2006 and has devoted full time to the job.

She has served on numerous community boards and organizations. She is married to Dr. Andre Renard and has a daughter, a grandson, two stepdaughters and a stepson.

KnightKnight, 39, an Air Force veteran, graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in civil engineering. She worked for Sarasota County as a bridge engineer. In 2008, she was certified as an energy manager and currently is the energy manager at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

She is a member of the Suncoast Branch of the American Society of Civic Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, Tau Beta Pi honor society and numerous other professional organizations.

Knight said she decided to run after responding to a call for candidates from the Sarasota-Manatee Young Dems and said she feels the citizens’ needs aren’t being met.

Candidates respond

Q: How important is the Longboat Key trolley route and would you work to preserve it?

Whitmore: To me it’s part of our long-range transportation plan, and keeping it is very important for our community.

Knight: It’s an excellent tourist attraction, and it helps take cars off the road. I would work to preserve it.

Q: Do you think the county administrator is doing a good job?

Whitmore: I have noticed that his 17 department heads have the utmost respect for him. You very rarely see that in a big organization. He supports them and lets them do their jobs. Sometimes I don’t agree with him, but I can talk to him.

Knight: No. Particularly that he hired David Klement as organizational development manager without going through an open process and did not advertise the position. If there was a veteran qualified for the position, he/she should have gotten preference.

Q: Will you encourage the county commission to rebuild the pier at the public beach?

Whitmore: Yes. My word is my bond. The county administrator and Joe McClash as Tourist Development Council chair said we would replace it. But if the people all of a sudden say they don’t want it, I would support that.

Knight: I love fishing piers. I would try my best to make it happen. It may be difficult to secure funding, but you don’t stop because of that. Maybe they could consider a different design.

Q: Was the county’s process for selecting a concessionaire for the public beach flawed?

Whitmore: I can’t say it was flawed. In the past, we always renewed the contract and this time staff wanted to go to bid. I didn’t think it should have gone to bid. As a commissioner and mayor, I never had a complaint about the previous concessionaire.

Knight: Yes. I’ve gone through the bidding process over and over in the engineering world. You can’t go to one vendor and give them a chance to change their bid without giving all the vendors in the bidding pool the same opportunity. They need to compete on an equal playing field.

Q: What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the county in the next four years?

Whitmore: Decreasing our unemployment and diversifying the job market such as with the port encouragement zone.

Knight: Attracting good paying jobs in industries that are respectful of the environment, evaluating the bureaucratic process to make the government more efficient and evaluating the county facilities to reduce their energy consumption.

Voters to elect two of three Holmes Beach candidates

HOLMES BEACH – Incumbent Commissioners John Monetti and Sandy Haas-Martens are being challenged by newcomer Jean Peelan. Seats are two years and go to the two candidates who get the most votes.

Sandy Haas-Martens Haas-Martens, 63, retired in 1995 as vice president and branch manager of First of America Bank. She is a licensed real estate salesperson and broker, a series seven stockbroker and licensed in series six mutual funds and annuities. She is a member of several civic groups and has taken numerous government leadership courses.

She has been a commissioner since 1998 and is currently commission chair. She is vice chair of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council. She was a member of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee for six years and Anna Maria Fire Commission for six years, serving as its chair and vice chair.

John Monetti John Monetti, 50, has a degree in management/human resources from Notre Dame University. He served as manager for major national restaurant chains throughout the country before becoming general manager of the Columbia restaurant on St. Armands Circle in 1994. He is a member of the local chapter and state board of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

He served on the city’s planning commission for four years before being elected to the commission in 2006, after citizens urged him to run. He is seeking his third term. He and his wife, Rejane, and four children live in the south part of the city.

Jean PeelenJean Peelen, 69, is a retired federal government attorney, who specialize in cases involving civil rights and children with disabilities. After retirement, she became a model for QVC, Home Shopping Network and Disney. She came to Homes Beach three years ago.

She is co-author of two books on women over 50, is the founder of the AMI Chapter of Dining for Women and was a spokesperson for The Sister Study, a national study of the sisters of women who had breast cancer. She is a foster mother for Underdog Rescue and serves on the Manatee County Animal Services Advisory Board.

Questions for candidates

Q: Will you encourage the county commission to rebuild the pier at the public beach?

Haas-Martens: Definitely. It was promised to us. They even asked us whether we wanted 300 or 700 feet.

Monetti: Yes. We should keep raising the subject when the opportunity arises and make sure our position is known. We’re a donor community and it’s appropriate to recognize what we provide and what we ask for in return.

Peelen: I favor replacing the pier and will encourage the commission to lobby the county so that all decisions made about the public beach are made by Holmes Beach.

Q: What could be done to make the downtown area more attractive?

Haas-Martens: We’ve been doing landscaping in the right of ways, and we’re encouraging the businesses to follow suit. It’s been happening, but it‘s a slow process.

Monetti: We did the first step by allowing a combination of business and residences to encourage development, but nothing is happening because of the economy. We have to wait for it to catch up.

Peelen: We should look at Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach as a model and work with local business owners to get input on how to make that corner a beautiful spot.

Q: Is the any hope for consolidation of services with the three Island cities?

Haas-Martens: It’s been tried many times, and it just hasn’t worked. I won’t say it won’t ever happen, but in this economic environment, I can’t see that it would be a saving.

Monetti: You need the will of all three communities. That has been the biggest challenge. You can’t just will yourself onto another community.

Peelen: There’s hope. The first steps that don’t threaten anyone have to be taken now. I would form a committee of all three cities to get federal grants as a start.

Q: Was the county’s process for selecting a concessionaire for the public beach flawed?

Haas-Martens: Yes. There should have been some representation from the three Island cities, either elected officials or residents, on the selection committee. There should have been more weight given to correspondence from the patrons of Cafe on the Beach. They should have listened to the people.

Monetti: I supported the prior leaseholders. The committee members weren’t under such time constraints that they had to make a decision when they did. I think the current leaseholders will do just fine. Sometimes there’s too much resistance to change, but change for the sake of change doesn’t make much sense either.

Peelen: Yes. I worked for the federal government and oversaw the awarding of contracts. There’s a lot of subjectivity. They went back to United Park Services and not Cafe on the Beach. They should have done everything possible to give both an opportunity to win that contract.

Q: What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the city in the next two years?

Haas-Martens: Unfunded mandates from Tallahassee and Washington that require the city to spend its money.

Monetti: Budgeting. Even if the economy starts recovering, there’s going to be a lead time of one to two years before we see an increase in revenues.

Peelen: Budgeting. The city has acted very responsibly, but our economic woes are not over. People will get more worried about how the money is being spent. We should publish the entire budget in the paper and hold meetings on it in places where people feel comfortable coming.

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