Terry Gans learned in business “to always run scared and always do your best.” Last year, when he faced off against challenger Irwin Pastor, he refused to go into a party with his fellow commissioners until he learned the results.
This year, however, after seeing Sarasota County results, in which he received 57.8% of votes, the retired grocery store chain executive felt confident enough to go into his party before he saw the Manatee County tally. As he headed in, he got a call from Town Clerk Trish Granger: Gans received 1,252 votes, or 57.38%, defeating challenger Ray Rajewski to win a two-year term in the District 3 commission seat.
Serving alongside him in the at-large seat will be Pastor, whom Gans defeated with just 27 votes in last year’s election.
Gans, 67, said that this year’s election didn’t have the acrimony of past races.
“Passion doesn’t burn hot forever. People focused more on the issues,” he said.
Rajewski could not be reached for comment at press time.
“In my case, and Pastor’s campaign, we had a progressive view toward the future,” Gans said. “That resonated with voters.”
For Gans, the past 20 months have seemed like a nonstop campaign. The commission appointed him to fill an at-large seat after Commissioner Hal Lenobel resigned in July 2012. Pastor challenged Gans for the remaining one year of the at-large term in last year’s election.
Gans initially planned to run for the at-large seat again but opted instead to run against Rajewski for the District 3 seat after reading his comments in the Longboat Observer in a Nov. 14 story titled “ULI study: worth $133,816.35?” in which Rajewski said, in part, that “we have a pretty nice place with not a lot to improve upon.”
Gans, a Grand Bay resident since 2005, told the Longboat Observer last month that he wanted to be re-elected to continue his work on the commission, including changes the town’s codes and Comprehensive Plan.
“The only way we go downhill as an island is if we let ourselves go downhill,” Gans said. “Whether we want to be or not, we are in competition with other communities. The good get better and the bad get worse. We will be attractive only as long as we deserve to be.”
Gans said Tuesday night that the next step is to “get the codes redone in a way the entire island can be united behind so we are good for the next 30 years.”
But Gans also had more immediate plans after securing two years on the commission.
“I’m going to sleep tonight. It’s been a perpetual campaign for me,” he said.