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Who is David Brenner?

PETER O’CONNOR
Guest Columnist
opinion@lbknews.com

Consistent with my minor political activity around here I asked an acquaintance here in District 3 to sign a nomination petition for a neighbor who is running for our Town Commission. That targeted signer asked me whom the new candidate was running against. I answered: David Brenner, the current commissioner from this district, our district. The person seemed not to know who David was. Wow!

I view this with only little alarm, and mean no criticism of David. I relate it here only as representative of the lack of interest, lack of understanding of things local on the part of our friends and neighbors. One might expect the people here to know at least who represents them in Town Hall. Imagine the level of response if we asked key residents to name their county commissioner, state representative, state senator, member of Congress, U.S. senators. David is in good company.

Almost constantly I have been asking, maybe pleading, in these pages for some people of this town to step forward and become engaged in town government.

Maybe there will be a new face on the local scene. I take no credit for this interest. I care not who gets the credit; I only care about results. One for four is a poor day in baseball, a bad day here. I grade myself in this effort at a ‘C;’ I grade the town with a ‘D.’ As somebody once said, “Wait until next year.”

As the election filing deadline has passed it looks like we have one new candidate, among the five who qualify (for four seats):

Ray Rajewski of The Bayou section of Bay Isles has qualified as a candidate for the District 3 seat. He opposes one-term Commissioner David Brenner.

Lynn Larson of Country Club Shores apparently escapes an opponent and runs unopposed for her District 1 seat.

Phyllis Black of Tangerine Bay took out papers for either the District 1 seat or for the one at-large seat up this year. She failed to pursue qualification.

There was some confusion as to which seat Black intended to qualify for; apparently unsettled among her and her supporters by the filing deadline.

Michael Drake, a Village regular, took out papers for the District 5 seat but did not pursue qualification.

Dr. Larry Kasouff of Country Club Shores took out papers for the District 1 seat but did not pursue qualification.

Congratulations to Ray Rajewski, a refreshing new face. We’ll be hearing more from and about him soon, I’m certain.

Pat Zunz, who currently fills the District 5 seat as an appointee, has qualified as a candidate for that seat. She is not really a new face but has come forward to be an elected member. She runs unopposed.

Dr. Hal Lenobel runs again unopposed for his at-large seat. Hal brings experience to the Town Commission. He might appear to be a voice crying in the wilderness; he’s not. He is the voice of reason on the board, and remember he’s a solid vote for the still percolating Longboat Key Club application.

What is both interesting and maybe upsetting is the implication that the new regime was willing to threaten the continued service of either Larson or Lenobel, or both. There clearly is a price to be paid for disagreement.

So it looks like the town election ballot to be presented to the voters in March 2012 will list:

• For Town Commission District Three: David Brenner or Ray Rajewski. (Unopposed candidates do not appear on the ballot.)

• Referenda Questions: Beach nourishment funding (maybe); other questions unknown at this point; charter review is a possibility.

At least this election forces the commission to be somewhat accountable.

There will be dialogue — in print, in advertising, in public discussion and hopefully in debate. Perhaps all the candidates, on or off the ballot, will participate.

We’ll be facilitating this dialogue. Stay tuned.

While we’re at new faces; I had the opportunity to meet briefly, at his request, with David Bullock, our new interim town manager. Maybe he’s seeking out ‘movers and shakers.’ I am neither. We discussed a range of issues, mostly brought up by me. He’s a listener. He told me that he had met almost all of our town employees. That’s good.

Bullock seems to be up on things that need to be accomplished. He was aware of the potential for trouble with our water supply line under the bridge at the north end, and the cross bay subaqueous force main delivering our waste water to Manatee County for treatment — before I brought these up. That’s good also.

Bullock gives the impression of an experienced administrator. He claims confidence that things, which need to be done, will be done. I hope that he can pull it off. He feigns no knowledge of recent development events here. I hope that he learns.

I suggested that rebuilding of our staff might be his first important task.

A pleasant fellow, maybe in a tough spot. Time will tell.

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