Sitting in his Bay Isles home, Phillip Younger declines to divulge any information about a campaign platform that will attempt to unseat Commissioner Hal Lenobel from his at-large seat in March.
Younger, who was the first candidate to qualify for the March general election, will face off with a commissioner who has never been challenged for his seat in five previous terms in office.
But Younger doesn’t seem rattled. In fact, the Key resident, who began attending every commission meeting since he became a certified commission candidate in September, seems up for the challenge.
Although Younger won’t get into any of the campaign issues just yet, he gives a glimpse into why he wants to become one of seven commissioners and only the third new commissioner in two years.
“There has been some decline on the island in the last several years,” Younger said. “I would like to see a little more vibrancy restored to an island I still consider one of the top-10 places I have ever visited.”
Younger said he believes the renovated Longboat Key Public Tennis Center project and a revamped Bayfront Park Recreation Center will go a long way toward “helping the island regain its foothold.”
“My desire to be on the commission has to do with helping the community be a better place,” Younger said.
Younger, an Atlanta native and Georgia Tech graduate who retired as a manager of technical-support area and line maintenance for Delta Airlines in 2001, has a knack for problem solving.
While being promoted from industrial engineer to manager in his 31 years of service at Delta, Younger also found time to attain his law degree in 1977. While he dabbles in law here and there, Younger says he is still an engineer at heart.
Younger recently used those technical and consultant skills at Town Hall, when, along with Key resident Lenny Landau, he presented a 2009-10 budget study, which they believed had the potential for $920,000 in budget reductions.
The report stated that the two residents found $590,000 in savings from the general fund, which could be reduced without impacting town services or personnel. Approximately $330,000 in savings, Landau said, was also found from enterprise funds that affect town rates.
Although town staff rejected most of the study’s budget cuts, only coming up with somewhere between $26,000 and $62,000 that might be considered acceptable savings, Younger said the report was an eye-opener to residents and commissioners who applauded their efforts.
Younger, who has been coming to Florida since he was a child, knew he would live on Longboat Key permanently when he and his wife, Fanny, drove over the Ringling Bridge in 1986 while looking for property and his wife turned to him and said, “This is it.”
The former airline employee, who says he took advantage of flying privileges to see the world, still ranks Longboat Key in the upper echelon of the top-10 places he has ever visited.
Younger and his wife became permanent residents of the Key in 2005, and Younger soon became involved in town affairs, including Turtle Watch, the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee and the town’s Code Enforcement Board.
“This is what retirement does to you,” Younger said. “Being a commissioner is the culmination of my sitting on the sidelines and either continuing to complain or deciding to do something about it.”
Family: Wife, Fanny; two daughters, Rosemary and Marston
Former occupation: Manager of technical-support area and line maintenance for Delta Airlines
Interesting fact: At Delta Airlines, Younger designed and patented a lightweight cargo container door with no bars that saved the airline millions of dollars in fuel costs.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at email@example.com.
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