Dr. Hal Lenobel has never had to campaign for a commission seat before, and he has no intention of starting now.
For the first time in six runs for a commission seat, Lenobel is being challenged this March by newcomer Phillip Younger.
But Lenobel says he still won’t spend any money on campaigning, won’t collect any money from friends and supporters and will not debate the issues with his opponent leading up to the March election.
“I just think the way the economy is, it would be wrong for me to collect donations or spend my own money on a campaign,” Lenobel said. “I am running on my record and don’t plan to collect one cent for a campaign.”
That record includes three years as the town’s mayor and 10 years of combined service as a Longboat Key commissioner.
“There’s nothing left to prove, but I just feel obligated to run again,” Lenobel said. “It’s my civic duty to do so.”
Lenobel, who has met his challenger for the at-large seat and calls him “a good candidate,” said it wasn’t an easy decision to decide to run again for a sixth term, which would make him tied with Ray Metz as the longest-running commissioner.
Lenobel said having an opponent had nothing to do with his decision to run again.
“It came down to my experience and wanting to help resolve the town’s pension problems, keeping oil drilling off our shore and wanting to have a hand in overseeing the Key Club’s (Islandside) project,” Lenobel said.
Lenobel came back to the commission in 2008 for a two-year term after a three-year reprieve, because he said he was asked by supporters to run again and he wanted to change what he perceived as a fractured commission.
Although Lenobel believes the commission now acts as a more uniform body, he says it’s not like the commissions he remembers from his first terms in office from 1997 to 2005.
“There used to be a much friendlier attitude, and commissioners became close friends,” Lenobel said. “I guess times change.”
But what hasn’t changed is Lenobel’s work ethic.
In fact, it’s increased since he has battled back after being diagnosed in December 2003 with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a life-threatening disease, which destroyed his kidneys and forces him to have dialysis three times a week.
Besides being a commissioner, Lenobel became the president of Sarasota Tiger Bay Club this year and is responsible for all of the programs the club holds each month.
“I am busier now than when I first became a commissioner,” Lenobel said. “But there are more things to do and more pressing issues at Town Hall that I want to tackle.”
Born: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Former occupation: Dentist
Hometown: Long Island, N.Y.
Passion: Lenobel’s passion is golf, and he has 13 holes-in-one, the most on record with the Florida Golf Association.
His 60-year marriage to his wife, Hazel, is another passion. “You have to have a passion to be married to the same woman for 60 years,” he says.
Interesting fact: Lenobel and his wife have owned a home on Longboat since 1969.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at email@example.com.
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