Lyn Haycock was not surprised when her husband said he wanted to run for Longboat Key Town Commission.
“I said I have always expected you to do it,” said Lyn about Mike, her husband of 32 years. “I expected him one day to end up in some kind of role. I did not know that it would be to make Longboat Key a better place.”
Mike Haycock will take over after the March 12 election for Commissioner Jim Brown, who opted not to run again for his at-large seat after nearly a decade in town government. Because Haycock had no challengers — following the withdrawal of Randy Langley from the race — he was automatically elected.
The Haycocks have been Longboat Key residents for 22 years. Mike Haycock retired three years ago from Tropicana Corp., where he was vice president of manufacturing. And for the past two years, he has served as vice chairman of the town Planning & Zoning Board.
“I could not sit back and not be involved,” said Haycock, 69. “After Planning & Zoning, the next logical step was to run for commission. It was just a matter of when. I have been to most of the meetings in the last year, and I know what I am getting into.”
If voters don’t approve extending commission terms to three years in March, then Haycock would reach his six-year term limit in 2025 if he wins re-election in 2021. Even if commission terms are extended, a commissioner cannot hold office for more than six consecutive years, according to the town charter.
Haycock, who is making a point of meeting and talking with fellow Key residents, said the two topics he hears the most about are traffic and red tide.
“They also happen to be the two things we have the least impact on both in terms of cause and solutions.”
Haycock acknowledged the various organizations focusing on red tide are on the right track. But, both the state and federal governments need to play a bigger role in mitigation and a solution, he said.
Then there’s the issue of zoning, which is in the process of being updated.
“Long term, coming out of planning and zoning, I think we need to make sure we have the right zoning laws so Longboat looks and feels like it does 10, 20 years from now,” he said. “The reason why we love it so much here is that it is a low-density island and we have all the amenities we want.”
One of the big questions looming is beach nourishment.
“We don’t have a sustainable plan right now for beach nourishment, and that’s something we’re going to have to develop over the next couple of years,” he said. “We have an incredible amount of data from the last 20 to 30 years. I don’t know if we have analyzed that data as deeply as we can and allow that analysis to drive us.”
Haycock said when he was in the business world and encountered a problem, he would ask if it was properly defined.
“I think we need to still do that with beaches,” said Haycock, adding the funds generated from the town’s beach tax is not enough to keep up with sand and project costs. “Is it about hot spots or about plans to renourish every three to five years?”
The Haycocks, who have four children and 10 grandchildren, say the best things about living on Longboat are that it is close to everything and its sunsets.
“If I could change something about Longboat, it would be red tide and traffic,” he said. “Red tide is nature and traffic affects us day to day, but it does change your way of life. You can’t get off the island after 3 or 4 p.m.
“But, we’ve done a lot of things right,” he said. “We’ve controlled density. Look at what is going on in Anna Maria. … You can’t do that in Longboat Key.
“I think the current commission has us headed in the right direction.”