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East County Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 1 month ago

Manatee County Commission, At-Large: Carol Felts

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Meet the candidate.
by: Ian Swaby Staff Writer

Carol Felts said she felt compelled to enter the election due to the current state of the county government, which she said prioritizes development over the needs of the people who live here. 

Felts said her biggest priority for the Lakewood Ranch area is slowing the pace of development so the infrastructure can keep pace with it.

She said development in Lakewood Ranch is often proceeding to the detriment of the community.

“As that area grows, and they no longer have the services that they need, with our first responders, our teachers, our schools, our roadways, we perpetuate this delusion of a quality of life that's been built.”

Felts said the county should only approve developments in a manner that keeps pace with infrastructure. 

“We could say, let's not put 7,000 new houses on a road until that road is widened, until those bridges are built. It's just a matter of a little bit more patience, and we could still have the growth we need to balance it,” she said.

She said a solution to problems with development is creating an “iron-clad” land development code which would only allow a certain amount of rezoning, and a certain amount of agricultural lands to be converted to commercial or residential zoning.

Felts said her other priority is helping residents of Lakewood Ranch to be informed on issues affecting them, as she said too many voters are uninformed and uninvolved.

She said one way this can be remedied is by commissioners taking a greater interest in their community.

“We need commissioners who are more inclined to form a coalition with the people they represent, rather than each other on the board,” she said. “We did not elect commissioners to form as a ball amongst themselves, but to form an allegiance to their constituents.”

She also said the county should not host open meetings during the day, when citizens cannot attend or call in.

Felts believes in property owner’s rights, but said she does not think there was an inherent right to rezone property when the result might have a substantial negative impact for the rest of the community.

Felts said it is “fiscally prudent and responsible” for the county to keep robust reserves of taxpayer dollars for a contingency in the case of disasters, although she called the county’s reserves “a little bit too high.”

She said as the Premier Park project has already been chosen for inclusion on the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, she will support its construction, but said she thought there were better uses for tax dollars than roughly $770,000 for the swimming pool expansion, and $25 million for the library.

Felts spoke emphatically about what she said was the need to provide a different atmosphere at commission meetings, during which she said candidates were too focused on conflict instead of compromise. She said citizens speaking their mind at the meetings were “demeaned, dismissed and disparaged,” which she said the public should not tolerate.

“We're all never going to agree, but you've got to reach a compromise, because you've got to share the earth with other people, whether you agree with them or not. And I'm the only candidate that has proposed compromise versus extremism,” she said.

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