By Coastal Breeze News Staff
Coastal Breeze News contacted each of the nine candidates for City Council; Gerry Gibson, Larry Hoenig, Ken Honecker, Paul Meyer, Amadeo Pettricus, Frank Recker, Larry Sacher, Wayne Waldack and Duane Thomas. We asked each the same question. Their responses are limited to 400 words. Their responses will be run in the order in which they’re received. This is what each candidate was sent:
What are your priorities if you are elected to the city council? Please explain why and be specific. As examples: If you believe the city is spending too much money, cite the instances and what you recommend. On the other hand, if you believe the city should undertake new programs or projects please explain which ones, why and how they would be financed.
My top priority if I am elected would be to address the perception that our City Government is NOT transparent, has a lack of respect when the Public speaks, and a disdain for public input as has been reinforced by the very low ratings that polls such as the most recent MICA poll illustrate. I would address this by immediately calling for a series of open “Town Hall Meetings” to give our community an opportunity for input and allow them to prioritize; the City has recently established an e-mail system specifically designed to allow people to communicate with Council, yet as an example I just sent one in and not a single Councilor has even acknowledged receipt of it. Secondly, I would charge Council with doing their job, which is to “manage the Managers” as opposed to our current situation in which Council is reactive and seemingly “managed by the Managers”. The most important issue our community faces is self-determination, i.e. what is the vision of the future of our Island—should we be more tourist friendly, or focus on the property owners; this question needs to be vetted by the Residents. The second most important issue is the cost of doing business as a City and its effect on both Residents, as well as Commercial establishments; a thorough review of the Budget process needs to be done and should include Citizen involvement, not just 3 City Councilors.
I would like the city to work better TOGETHER in all departments. I believe in open government in which the people are heard. We should make the best decisions that make sense for all of us, that are based on facts and not opinion. What I have seen in the past five years is the city getting better at controlling expenses, and there is always room for improvement. Collier Blvd is now complete and looks great, common flooding problems have been resolved, city staff has been kept to a reasonable level. My opinion is the Smokehouse Bridge renovation is a good project but not right now. The $8,000,000 for a bridge that ranks 7 out of 10 according to the state inspectors, versus $3,500,000 for a new Mackle Park Community Center which would be used for adult programs as well as kid programs to generate revenue in the long run, this to me should be common sense. We need to be better listeners on all the projects that are in the future. That comment is made for both residents and city staff. Let’s not lose sight of where we live and why we live here.