In March, Gene Jaleski is seeking the same seat on the Longboat Key Town Commission that he resigned from more than two years ago.
He hears the same thing over and over again.
“Everyone asks me why I’m doing this again,” Jaleski said. “It’s simple. To give the voters a choice and create debate within our island to try and get people to understand the issues.”
He’s also quick to point out that he’s the only candidate out of the six running who has ever won an election. He attained the at-large seat in 2009 from incumbent Randall Clair. Jaleski’s opponent, incumbent Phill Younger, was appointed to the seat a year later when Jaleski resigned.
In May 2010, when he resigned, he told the Longboat Observer, “Town government isn’t for me.”
Asked about that comment, Jaleski responds quickly.
“I knew the commission was breaking the law when it was passing the Longboat Key Club project, and I didn’t want to vote on it,” Jaleski said.
Jaleski has made the Key Club project, which never came to fruition, a staple of his campaign.
“The courts ruled approving that project wasn’t just a little wrong, but very, very wrong,” Jaleski said. “It’s a sad chapter in this town’s history, and I warned them not to do it.”
Jaleski says that during his commission term (March 2009 to May 2010) he pitched a license-plate camera recognition system. A license-plate camera recognition system is slated to come to fruition this year through the police department.
He also cites helping the town add a second code-enforcement officer, a position that was later removed during budget discussions.
Jaleski also said he was pushing for pension reform in 2009, when the town’s unfunded liabilities hovered at $18 million.
If elected in March, Jaleski hopes to accomplish a similar agenda he had during his first time as a commissioner.
He wants the town to consider exploring other beach-project alternatives that include a sand bypass system that traps sand and puts it back on the Key. He also believes the groins permitted on the north end of the Key are too expensive and not appropriate for that location.
Jaleski lists the following as his top priorities:
• Getting the commission to look at how other communities do things, including how they manage their beaches;
• Helping move forward the code and Comprehensive Plan change process that needs community input;
• Putting in public Wi-Fi for the entire Key;
• Turning the vacant gas station parcel on the north end of the island into a Visitor/Historical Society Center;
• Eliminating campaign contributions for future commission races.
Born in Larchmont, N.Y., Jaleski attended Brown University and has a master’s degree in technical design from the University of Washington, in Seattle.
After a job with Boeing and a brief stint as a production manager in the entertainment business, in 1975, Jaleski formed his own company designing point-of-sale systems of gaming equipment.
In 1985, he moved permanently to Longboat Key.
“I really love this community, and everything I do is constructive,” Jaleski said. “I just want the town to look at the questions more carefully and consider other options.”
Former occupation: Former owner and head engineer for a large-scale computer integration company involved with the gaming industry
Family: Companion, Elisabeth Phillipson; two daughters; two grandsons; and two granddaughters
Hometown: Larchmont, N.Y.
Hobbies: Spending time with his grandchildren
Interesting fact: Jaleski was a former folk singer and also held the position of production manager for singer Helen Reddy from 1972 to 1975.