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Longboat Key Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 2 weeks ago

Three Longboat Key commissioners run unopposed

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No one filed to run against incumbent commissioners Mike Haycock, BJ Bishop and Maureen Merrigan.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Longboat Key Town Commission will continue to have familiar faces for the next few years.

Incumbent commissioners Mike Haycock, BJ Bishop and Maureen Merrigan submitted their documentation and collected enough petition signatures to qualify for the Town Commission. No one else filed to run against them before the noon Monday deadline.

Haycock said it helps that he can focus on his duties as a commissioner versus also having to campaign. 

“When you run for commissioner against someone, you have to raise money, you got to ask your friends for money, (you) got to spend time advertising and so on, and so not having to do that (is) terrific,” Haycock said.

Haycock and Bishop’s at-large seats are for three-year terms.

“In my almost now 16 years of serving in Longboat Key both at the Planning and Zoning Board and the Town Commission, this has been one of the best commissions that I have ever had the privilege to work with,” Bishop said. “I think we have a great group most of whom served with me at Planning and Zoning, so I think that we have the ability to get a lot done and look at the future of this community in a very big-picture way.”

Merrigan’s District 5 seat is for one year to fill the term of former Commissioner Ed Zunz, who resigned in March after moving to a new condominium.

“I did make a commitment to finish Ed’s term, and his term goes for two years,” Merrigan said. “I think there’s really great momentum with this group of commissioners in terms of the initiatives we’re pursuing, the ability to get things done that are important for the Key.”

Starting in 2023, the District 5 seat will be for a three-year term.

The town would have held a general election on March 8, 2022, had anyone decided to run against Haycock, Bishop or Merrigan.

In April, the Town Commission appointed Merrigan over former commissioner Gene Jaleski and campaign consultant Christopher Carman to fill the void left by Zunz.

Merrigan said she was appreciative of her connection to the LBK North community group, which represents 20-plus homeowner and condominium associations. She used to chair LBK North before joining the Town Commission.

“To be able to, once a month, tap into that group and get a sense of what is an issue and what isn’t an issue is really helpful,” Merrigan said.

Haycock, Bishop and Merrigan discussed several issues they would like to help resolve during their tenures.

Specifically, Merrigan said she would like to get funding to build a roundabout at Gulf of Mexico Drive and Broadway Street, a resolution to the Ohana beach wall, lowering the north-end boat noise, abiding by new sea turtle protections set to take effect in 2022 and having a successful kickoff to the Town Center.

Bishop mentioned how the town has funding to conduct assessments for the stormwater systems for the Sleepy Lagoon and Buttonwood Harbour neighborhoods.

“Certainly, the tidal-rise issues are critical and how we improve our stormwater management system and we address the issues of non-conforming properties to ensure that things are safe here in the community,” Bishop said. “We have changing issues there, and we can’t keep our heads in the sand on those issues.”

The town will save money by not having to hold a March election. In the last 10 years, general elections have each cost the town between $5,884.42 and $28,347.12, according to documentation provided by Town Clerk Trish Shinkle.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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