Election season has officially begun on Longboat Key.
Longboat Key Town Commission candidates took to the podium at the Longboat Key Republican Club luncheon Friday, Jan. 11, at the Sarasota Yacht Club to answer a variety of questions.
• Irwin Pastor is challenging incumbent Terry Gans for the one-year at-large seat.
• Gene Jaleski is challenging incumbent Phill Younger for the two-year at-large seat.
• Larry Grossman is challenging incumbent Mayor Jim Brown for the District 4 seat.
Commissioner Jack Duncan is running unopposed.
The debate allowed candidates to offer their opinions on several topics. Below are some of the candidates’ answers:
What is the most important thing you would like to see accomplished if elected?
“Comprehensive Planning is the most important and to get zoning codes adjusted in the immediate future.”
— Commissioner Terry Gans
“A long-term strategic plan that shows where we are going and how we are going to get there. Not just objectives, but a strategy that supports it. If we can get that long-term thinking in place, it will be the most important thing I will ever do on the commission.”
— Commissioner Jack Duncan
“I also believe in strategic planning, long-term and short-term. Management and fiscal review is also very important. It’s important we look at everything.”
— Candidate Irwin Pastor
“We need to get the codes reviewed and the Comp Plan. But, beyond that, I feel like a kid in the candy store. There’s so many things to choose from, and I want it all.”
— Commissioner Phill Younger
“I want us to become the premier name on people’s lips when they say where they want to retire. I’m a firm believer in marketing.”
— Candidate Gene Jaleski
“I would like to see a community center. We will perform an outreach for one and it will help draw this community together.”
— Mayor Jim Brown
“One simple thing I will accomplish is to have a Comp Plan that reflects the consensus of the folks on this island and a zoning code that implements it.”
— Candidate Larry Grossman
How much government is enough in terms of offering goods and services?
“I have been here for 25-to-30 years. I moved into the Village because of its incredibly vibrant community. Twenty-five years have passed and we have utter decay and blight. Could government have prevented it? Absolutely not. When government tries to force things, it’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. A minimal amount of government is all we need.”
I prefer Jeffersonian type of government. But, in this age, we have to do things to protect our town like fire, safety and beach erosion. Every issue is different.
“I think we can redevelop in such a way to keep this a premier destination. It’s a fine balance. We have to find a sensible way to redevelop. We have to protect property rights of the owners.
“Commitment is always to the residents of the town as a whole. Responsibility of the commission is to look at choices that are never as easy. Responsibility is to try and sort out what’s right for the entire island today and tomorrow. As for the role between private and public, the government’s responsibility is to provide a mechanism for people that make investments and keep balance of commercial, residential and tourism in balance while allowing input for the community as a whole.”
“It’s a thin line, sometimes, between government, community and the citizens. Government has to oversee infrastructure. One of the things we will be doing is getting input from citizens to see where they want this island to be. Then it becomes about implementation.”
“Government is responsible for health, safety and welfare. In all cases, there’s going to be this play between the private and public sector.
“The answer is simple. No one here wants government to be any more involved than it has to be.”