A former planner, a retired software engineer with some commissioner experience and a former Pepsi-Cola bottle company owner walk into Town Hall …
And walk into Town Hall they have, where they picked up paperwork and qualified to run for Town Commission seats for the March 19, 2013, town election.
Longboat Key will have three commission races next year.
• Irwin Pastor will challenge incumbent Commissioner Terry Gans for the one-year at-large seat.
• Gene Jaleski will challenge incumbent Phillip Younger for the two-year at-large seat.
• Larry Grossman will challenge incumbent Mayor and District 4 Commissioner Jim Brown.
District 2 Commissioner Jack Duncan is running unopposed for his seat.
Larry Grossman lives on St. Judes Drive near the middle of the Key and uses his bicycle as his main form of transportation.
Grossman has plenty of ideas for making Longboat Key a better place to live and frequently steps to the podium during the public-to-be-heard segment of town meetings.
He retired in the early 2000s after 30 years in the planning department of Alexandria, Va., where he frequently saw plans submitted by Longboat Key Mayor and architect Jim Brown, whom he is challenging for the District 4 seat. He worked in commercial real estate until 2008. He retired that year and moved to Longboat Key with his wife, Patricia Curran, who worked as a planner in the private sector.
Grossman began reporting on what he saw in the proposed Longboat Key Club and Resort plan, testifying as a planner at some of the 2010 public hearings. He saw it as a massive project that had no rules or consensus.
But Grossman was just getting started.
He spoke out in favor of removing 57 bicycle signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive that he saw as distracting, but he worries that GMD isn’t pedestrian-friendly and has pushed for pedestrian improvements from Sarasota to Anna Maria. He was also involved in the Vision Plan process and has ideas for a proposed community center and beaches.
Pastor, who is challenging Gans for the one-year at-large seat, lives with his wife, Sylvia, in L’Ambiance, on the south end of the Key and is the past president of the L’Ambiance Condominium Association. Pastor, along with Islandside Property Owners Coalition President Bob White, was listed as IPOC’s representatives for mediation in July between the town, Key Club and IPOC, according to court records.
In 2009, the Pastors and their son, Scott, opened Tasti D-Lite franchises on St. Armands Circle and at Westfield Southgate Mall.
Irwin and Sylvia Pastor owned and operated Pepsi-Cola Buffalo Bottling Corp. from 1963 to 2000, when they sold the business. They spend nine months of the year in their Longboat Key home and the remaining three months in their Manhattan, N.Y., condominium.
Longbeach Village resident Gene Jaleski, the challenger for Younger’s two-year at-large seat, is no stranger to Town Hall.
After losing to former Commissioner Robert Siekmann in 2008 for an at-large seat, Jaleski unseated incumbent Commissioner Randall Clair in 2009.
Jaleski resigned from the Longboat Key Town Commission May 25, 2010, in the wake of an email exchange in which he insulted Longboat Key Public Interest Committee members and called former Mayor Ron Johnson “the most ineffective mayor in recent times.”
Jaleski stated in his resignation email that he had been unhappy in his capacity on the Town Commission for some time, was not going to seek re-election in March 2011 and realized that the reasons he ran for a commission seat “were unobtainable.”
Jaleski, a retired computer software engineer, is also known for providing input at meetings. Two of his top issues are the management of the town’s beach and ways to provide better cellular reception to the Key other than cell towers.
This time around, he’s ready to tackle revitalization for a vacant gas station and Whitney Beach Plaza. He has a disdain for the use of consultants and is ready to run on a campaign of commission ineffectiveness.
In an email sent to Mayor Jim Brown Nov. 18, Jaleski asked Brown, “How long must the residents of Longboat Key suffer the current town lawyer?”
“It is past the time when the town needs to be put out of its legal miseries,” wrote Jaleski, referencing the recent judgment that favored the Islandside Property Owners Coalition in regard to a town code challenge. “Too much bad legal advice has cost the taxpayers countless of thousands of dollars and wasted years, from an unbroken string of land use court defeats, spanning decades.”