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Longboat likely to have another uncontested election

As of Nov. 14, Jeff Lenobel, Deborah Murphy and Mayor Ken Schneier have submitted necessary paperwork.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 15, 2022
The March 2018 election was the last time commissioners had to run a campaign for their desired seat. (File photo)
The March 2018 election was the last time commissioners had to run a campaign for their desired seat. (File photo)
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With a week remaining in the qualification period for the March Town Commission elections, each of three three open seats has attracted one candidate each, including Mayor Ken Schneier seeking re-election.

As of Monday, Nov. 14, Jeff Lenobel has qualified for the District 1 seat being vacated by Sherry Dominick

Dominick was elected in 2020 when Randy Clair chose not to seek re-election. Family and professional commitments were at the forefront of her decision, she told fellow commissioners in Oct. She works as a Realtor with Michael Saunders and Co. on the south end of the Key. 

Deborah Murphy has qualified for the District 5 seat. Maureen Merrigan serves in the role and as Vice Mayor. She has also announced her decision to not seek re-election

Merrigan cited “increasing out-of-state family commitments” as a primary reason for vacating the seat once her term expires. 

Merrigan was first appointed to the seat left vacant by Ed Zunz when he moved out of District 5 to another home on Longboat Key. She then ran unopposed to fill the remainder of Zunz's term, one year.

Mayor Ken Schneier has submitted his petitions to the Supervisor of Elections, but at the time of this report, Town Clerk Trish Shinkle has not yet received a certification notice. 

Gary Coffin, who has previously shown interest in the District 1 seat, has withdrawn his request and will no longer be seeking election. 

Chris Sachs of District 1 has picked up a candidate book, but has not submitted any paperwork at this time. 

The deadline for qualifying for elections is noon Nov. 21. 

The last time an election was contested was in 2018. Since that March over four years ago, when Ed Zunz, Ken Schneier and Irwin Pastor won contested Town Commission races, no one else has had to exert the effort or money needed to run a campaign. 

In the March 2022 elections, incumbents Mike Haycock, BJ Bishop and Maureen Merrigan were declared commissioners-elect when no one else opted to file before the Nov. 15, 2021 deadline. 

If there is an election next year, whether contested or only a referendum question, the costs run between $10,000 to $20,000 for the town, according to the town.

In hopes of enticing more residents to consider the role, and in turn lead to contested elections, commissioners discussed the possibility of compensation at their Oct. 17 regular meeting. 

Currently, the town charter does not allow for compensation of commissioners and after thorough discussion of the matter such rules will remain. 

“We do this because it’s public service,” Commissioner Debra Williams said. “I don’t think that $10,000 is going to do much to entice someone to say they’ve got to get their name on the ballot.”

Even if the commissioners did seek compensation, any alterations to the town charter would have to go before voters for approval before any changes are allowed.


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