- January 25, 2021
Penelope “Penny” Gold has submitted qualifying paperwork for the District 2 commissioner seat.
Candidates are required to submit petitions to the Supervisor of Elections in either Manatee or Sarasota counties no later than 11 a.m. on Nov. 16. The supervisor then verifies the signatures and districts. Election Day is Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
Gold has been a member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board since May 2019, and on the town's Tax Advisory Council since July 2018.
In December 2017, Gold retired as CEO of the Kentucky Society of CPAs after 14 years. Before that, Gold served as executive director of the Kentucky Justice Association. She's also served as director of federal programs for Jefferson County government in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Longboat Observer caught up with Gold on what she hopes to accomplish if elected to the town commission.
Why are you running for the town commission?
For one thing, I think there's a real need for better intergovernmental relations. That we can do a lot better, I think if we work more closely with Sarasota County and Manatee County, and I'd like to see more collaboration. I think we can form stronger relationships, and better serve the needs of all the communities.
What topics or issues are most important to you?
Of course, aside from COVID, we're dealing with the pandemic issues and its impact on the budget. I think the traffic problems, and I can see residents beginning to move off the barrier island because of difficulty in getting downtown. I think there's a maze of governments that we're dealing with in terms of traffic, including the Florida Department of Transportation and the counties.
And then beach erosion, of course, is going to be a major issue for us, as the years go by, and the storms intensify, and how that will impact tourism and property values.
And then ... I guess some of the issues relating to local government budgeting. We’ve got this sewage treatment that we have to deal with, and all sorts of other issues with just inflation and other things that impact us.
And then, parking struggles, as they relate to the Village, and the impact on the homeowners but also the restaurants. We need a vibrant business community, as well as calm places to live. So, it’s going to take quite a bit of creativity and delicate negotiation, I think, to find the right solutions.
What can the town do better?
Actually, I think the town does an exceptional job. I've been on Planning and Zoning for several years, and the town does an excellent job in terms of qualified staff. I think the leadership is excellent. And I think that Longboat Key does an outstanding job in protecting the quality of life on the Key, and certainly one of my goals would be to maintain that, that exceptional quality of life that we enjoy there.
How would your previous experience help you in this role?
The major issues that come before Planning and Zoning go up to the commission, and they can accept or reject the proposals. So, I've had a very good bird’s-eye seat for a lot of the issues that they deal with. Right now, it's been daylight plain and some other issues with regard to redevelopment in flood-prone neighborhoods. So I think from that standpoint, I'd be familiar with a lot of the things that they discuss.
I've also served on the Tax Advisory Council for Longboat Key, and I've been through several months of the Citizens Academy for Longboat Key. So locally, I've tried to stay engaged since I've been there, and certainly, in Kentucky, and in my professional career, and also in earlier positions and education…I mean, I've always been involved and around public policy, and that’s what interests me, and that's where I spend my time.
Why do you like being a resident of Longboat Key?
“U.S. News and World Report" just came out with it, the best place in the country to retire is Longboat Key or Sarasota. So the city is a big draw for me because of the arts and all of the activity that is easily accessible from Longboat Key.
But of course, the beach, the air quality, the laid-back atmosphere, the way the city keeps up, the town is immaculate in most cases. But, they're very thoughtful about any development.
And even to the height of the lights on Gulf of Mexico Drive. I mean, things like that, the details that really make a difference for the residents, and a lot of that goes on behind the scenes, but it's a very, very impressive place to live.
And, of course, we have an exceptional fire department and police department and a very low crime rate, which is ideal for just about any community.
Oh, gosh. What else? And, the people are wonderful. We've been coming down there for 15 years and have been permanent residents since 2017, and everyone has been so nice and welcoming, and friendly and helpful and I can't say enough good things about the residents of Longboat Key.