Until last month, Harbourside resident and retiree Jack Duncan thought he was going to be running in his first campaign race for the District 2 commission seat that Mayor George Spoll is vacating in March.
But after Jack Jaret bowed out of the race in early December, Duncan instantly became the District 2 commissioner-elect.
Duncan, an Ohio native, worked his way up the corporate ladder at Wilmington, Del.,-based Zeneca Pharmaceuticals (now Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals) before moving permanently in 1999 to Longboat Key.
Duncan never thought he would become a town commissioner.
But, then again, he never thought he would become executive vice president of sales and marketing for Zeneca and, later, president of a newly formed Zeneca division.
Duncan, who has a degree in education from Ohio State University, was planning on becoming a teacher.
That was until money became tight and pharmaceutical sales was a more lucrative career choice.
Working at Zeneca, Duncan said, taught him a lot about strategic planning, which he believes will be his main attribute to the Longboat Key Town Commission.
“I like rationalizing on how to obtain objectives,” Duncan said. “I like to know how we can get things done.”
Duncan is not naïve, however. He’s observed Town Hall politics and knows that four out of seven commissioners must be in agreement to make changes.
And when asked what his main reason is for running for a commission seat, Duncan has two words: “economic revitalization.”
“At the end of the day, I want to keep Longboat Key the beautiful showplace it is, but I believe it needs an economic underpinning,” Duncan said. “We need an image that also has a strong economic impact that supports the beauty of this island.”
Duncan shares many of the same concerns as the rest of the commission.
“The island’s plazas need a face-lift,” Duncan said.
And Duncan is also a part of a growing majority of commissioners that doesn’t label tourism as a bad thing.
“We need tourism to survive and bring us future residents,” said Duncan, who says more island traffic related to tourism is a good thing. “But it can be well thought out and planned so it’s not overwhelming.”
Duncan is also looking forward to voicing his opinion on the town’s beach management plan.
“We need to really figure out if there’s another way to approach this,” Duncan said. “The beach is a very expensive process.”
And, as far as the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project, Duncan calls it “something positive for the Key.”
For now, the commissioner-elect is just looking forward to getting a handle on his new position and learning the ropes of town government.
“It will be interesting, and I’m taking this on with enthusiasm and excitement,” Duncan said. “Someone told me that for a little tiny island, we have great politics. I agree with that.”
Occupation: Executive with Zeneca Pharmaceuticals
Hobbies: Tennis, golf and fishing
Passion: Duncan’s family is his passion. “I wasn’t around a lot as a corporate executive,” Duncan said. “Now my passion and my focus is on my wife and children.”
Interesting fact: Duncan has a degree in education from Ohio State University and was planning on becoming a schoolteacher before changing careers to the pharmaceuticals industry.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]