Commission should be allowed to choose leadership
Governing is not easy and I did not expect it to be. You don’t have to be involved in governing to realize that.
As a third generation resident of Manatee County, I’ve been around and involved with our community my entire life. As a businessman, I’ve watched as Republicans in name only cleared a path for a career bureaucrat to push multiple tax hikes on residents, one of which was successful. They grew the size and scope of government faster than the county itself. They created fiefdoms, helped those in the know, and developed schemes like the sweetheart Lena Road land deal.
When former county administrator Ed Hunzeker lost at the ballot box, voters confirmed what I had suspected, they are sick and tired of these actions. While on the campaign trail I heard many of the same complaints. Government had grown out of control. Taxes are getting too high. Raising a family in Manatee County is getting harder, not easier.
With this in mind, I ran on a platform of less government, more transparency and lower taxes. I want to give our local government back to the people it was created to serve.
Every new administration should be permitted to choose its leadership. Joe Biden will not inherit Donald Trump’s staff or cabinet (and rightly so). Staff needs to be beholden to the administration it serves. Make no mistake, the three newly-elected commissioners Kruse, Satcher and myself are a clear message from voters that it’s time for a change. There needs to be a new way of running government, with conservative solutions to decades' old problems.
I find our current county administrator (Cheri Coryea) to be a good person. However, she has been in government for over 30 years and she has been a cheerleader for the tax hikes, for the new departments, for additional staff positions; for the massive spending spikes and for the lack of results in improvements to traffic congestion, localized flooding and water quality — especially in my district. I do appreciate and applaud her service but it’s time this new board, which is heading in a new direction, have someone at the helm that believes in a conservative ideology. The current administrator is not that person.
Many have become emotional over my motion to get our county staff on board with our new, more conservative tact. Names have been called. Insults have been hurled. This is not an emotional decision. Governing should never be based on emotional decision making. Governing should be about data and serving the people. In that vein, it is time our county staff better reflects the board it serves and that means a new leader at the helm.
I hope this explanation will help everyone to better understand how I came to this decision. I also hope that a calm presence and demeanor will help to restore civility and proper decorum during meetings. Voters have spoken and it is time we as leaders carry out their wishes.
Kevin Van Ostenbridge
Manatee County Commissioner (District 3)
Lakewood Ranch in danger of becoming a parking lot
I read Jay Heater's column in the Observer (Dec. 3). I don't know what Cheri Coryea's record looks like as Manatee County Administrator, but I must tell you, as new residents, and voters, of Lakewood Ranch — and I think I speak for many — we are absolutely thrilled to have Vanessa Baugh fighting for her constituents, and not for the special interests of deep pocket commercial developers.
It is an absolute disgrace that the folks over at GreyHawk Landing have had to shell out hard-earned money for legal representation, in order to fight the proposed Cox Chevrolet lot from being dumped right in their backyard. We have a similar situation facing us at Savanna.
Any commissioner, or administrator, who is intent on turning Lakewood Ranch into Route 41, with no regard for the lives of the families they will be affected, should go right ahead and approve everything that has to do with commercial rezoning so that Lakewood Ranch can turn into a nice, big mall parking lot.
Get involved with neighbors in need
I am sure all of us are ready for 2020 to pass. Who would have thought this time last year that we would be part of this worldwide pandemic?
We all have watched our friends struggling with kids not in school, isolation from friends and family, family or friends ill from COVID-19, hours cut at work, loss of a job, or elderly losing their job used to supplement Social Security to cover food or prescription drugs or because they can’t afford daycare. Others wonder how they are going to pay their car payments, mortgage or rent. This is a reality now.
I have communicated with many that I never would have guessed would be in dire need of help. Manatee County citizens care and now is the time to show it. Call that friend or acquaintance and ask them what they need, offer to help with the light bill, gas, groceries, cutting their lawn if you noticed the lawn service comes no more. It’s the little things that make a difference.
There is help from the Federal CARES Act for some of the issues where you can call Manatee County's 311 number. Those who want to help should ask where they can send contributions for food drives, animal food (for those getting ready to turn their animal in because they can’t afford to feed family and pets), utilities or medicine. If you can help someone personally, now is the time.
You can make a difference in someone’s life during a terrible time for all.
Manatee County Commissioner (at-large)