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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 8 years ago

10 to contend: David Brenner

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

In May, the Town Commission denied Planning and Zoning Board member David Brenner a second term, after the majority of the commission insinuated that Brenner and the planning board had been acting as an activist group, which helped spread the word for two charter amendments that voters approved in March 2008.

Now, Brenner wants to be a part of the group that released him from his planning-board duties.
Brenner, who is running for the District 3 commission seat held by Commissioner Peter O’Connor, has no regrets about he handled himself as a planning board member.

“We formed a Visioning Plan for the town and helped pass two charter amendments, by overwhelming margins, that allow properties to redevelop and increase tourism units to restore a balance that’s been lost on this Key,” Brenner said. “I’m proud of our accomplishments during that time.”

The former finance director for the city of Philadelphia, who helped save the city from financial ruin in the early 1990s, does not plan on changing how he operates on Longboat Key.

“If I’m an activist, so be it,” Brenner said. “I actually like the term and think we need an activist, because this island needs help.”

Brenner, 73, said he is running because he is not happy with how the Town Commission has handled the Vision Plan that he helped create during his three-year term on the planning board.

“The Vision Plan is a document that manages change over the next 20 years,” Brenner said. “The commission has ignored it.”

Brenner called the Vision Plan “too laid back” in 2007, which sparked the document’s total reorganization.
Worried about the loss of several businesses that included the closing of Robert Self’s Longbeach Chevron and Dr. Robert Gordon’s dental office two years ago, Brenner called for the document to be something that would help stave off more Key economic problems.

The document now states that “if no action is taken in response to these changes, Longboat Key will be a much less convenient island on which to live and all basic necessities, from gasoline, to medical needs, to entertainment, will only be found off the island.”

The document has an expanded goals-and-strategies section that has a timeline to implement the plan over the next 20 years, which includes ways to recapture tourism units and encourage Key renovations.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in that document,” Brenner said. “But it doesn’t do the town any good to have it sitting on a shelf collecting dust.”

Brenner also thinks the town should take a more active role in anything that has to do with the best interest of the Key, such as the revitalization of Avenue of the Flowers.

A Philadelphia native who moved to Longboat Key permanently in 2000, Brenner is a certified public accountant who retired as senior audit partner of Arthur Young & Co. (now Ernst & Young) in 1984, when he was 47.

In 2001, Brenner made the permanent move to Longboat Key after numerous winter visits; he joined the planning board in April 2006.

“This island needs revitalization,” Brenner said, “before we end up having to cross the bridge to buy groceries and eat at a restaurant.”

Age: 73
Former occupation: Certified public accountant, senior audit partner of Arthur Young & Co. (now Ernst & Young)
Hometown: Philadelphia
Passion: Playing tennis
Interesting fact: Brenner, along with his wife, Maggie, are world travelers who just returned from a six-week cruise that made stops in several countries.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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