BJ Bishop and Sherry Dominick begin their terms on Town Commission as Irwin Pastor and Randy Clair exit.
Monday, March 23 will mark one of Longboat Key’s annual rites of spring (or, almost spring): the installation of new town commissioners and the departure of those who are vacating their seats.
This year’s installation is unusual. Not one, but two women — BJ Bishop and Sherry Dominick — will begin their three-year terms on the commission.
Their joining the commission will mark the first time since 2015 that the commission won’t be all male. And it will mark only the fourth time in the town’s 65-year history that two women will serve on the commission simultaneously.
The perspectives of Bishop and Dominick should help shake up what has often been called Longboat Key’s “Good Ol’ Boys” Club.
Not that gender matters. It doesn’t. We always favor having the best qualified people on the job. And in that vein, throughout the town’s history, Longboat citizens have been fortunate to have a long, long list of high caliber people serving as volunteer town commissioners. That was certainly the case with the two outgoing commissioners — Irwin Pastor and Randy Clair.
This is not a knock on him, but there probably are few people who could ever recognize Clair in the Longboat Publix as one of the town’s commissioners. Talk about a quiet, low-profile but thoughtful, smart guy.
This was Clair’s second time around as a commissioner. He first served from 2005-2008, and during that period you can credit Clair for instigating the important effort to reform the town’s pension system and keep the town from drowning financially under the weight of unfunded pension liabilities.
Clair came back to the commission in 2017 to fill a vacant seat in District 1. And true to form — a detail-oriented former Mobil Oil lawyer — Clair picked up where he left off. Commissioners could always count on him to ask the questions no one else would think of — and thank goodness he did. Randy Clair was always a good steward for Longboat taxpayers.
Pastor was truly a public servant. He was not on the commission to feed his ego; he was there to contribute to the betterment of the community — as he did as a successful entrepreneur in Buffalo and New Jersey.
He was living a nice life on Longboat Key with his wife, Sylvia, until about 2010, when the owners of the Longboat Key Club and Resort sought approval for a $400 million expansion plan. As a resident of L’Ambiance, Pastor soon found himself serving as a mediator between Key Club owners and the residents on Longboat Club Road who opposed the Key Club’s plans.
Few Longboaters know of Pastor’s quiet involvement. But his experience in business negotiations played a pivotal role in the Key Club’s owners selling to Ocean Properties Ltd. — an outcome that has benefited Longboat Key.
From there, Pastor took the next step, winning a seat on the Town Commission in 2014. You can say this about Pastor’s approach as a commissioner: He always had one priority — what was best for the town.
In that approach you can include his support for the St. Regis Hotel project at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort property, the underground utilities project and the idea of bringing all of Longboat Key into Sarasota County instead of half in Sarasota and half in Manatee.
Pastor has said he knew that effort would take longer than he would serve, but he pushed that issue forward. Let’s hope his successors keep it going.
Once again, as we often do at this time, we would urge Longboaters when they see Clair and Pastor about town to thank them for a job well done. They are role models for the commissioners who follow them.