Who should ride on Longboat’s infamous Mayor-go-Round?
On Monday night, the Longboat Key Commission will vote among themselves on who should be our next mayor. It is certain to be a close vote with current Mayor Terry Gans likely being nominated as well as former Mayor George Spoll and perhaps former Mayor Jim Brown as well.
This decision is of utmost importance as the Town enters an era of redevelopment plans and rulemaking.
First, I wish to make clear that Terry Gans is the only choice that would allow the Town to move forward without the baggage, the biases and the behind the scenes maneuvering that have at times plagued the other candidates. He also is not a step backward into the past and an immolation of our community into the realms of the déjà vu.
First, Gans was nominated about four months ago when then-Mayor Jack Duncan stepped down. Gans has worked diligently, has an amiable and open personality and has evolved in his ability to run a meeting, foster discussion and do what is most important — facilitate an environment where other commissioners are heard and respected and residents are as well. He is not perfect. He has once or twice erred in cutting off a commissioner, but he shows recognition and a desire to do it better the next time. That is admirable.
Gans has worked tirelessly along with Jack Daly to push area municipalities to act on traffic remedies. Gans has shown that he has a balance between understanding the need for development and the need for restrictiveness. And most importantly, Gans does not bully, maneuver behind the scenes and attempt to run things from both behind the scenes as well as dais. In essence, he is articulate and fair.
In my view, George Spoll would spell disaster as a mayor in the coming years. We are facing Colony redevelopment proposals, land-use code rewrites and the kind of issues that require openness, lack of bias and the ability to not push an a priori agenda.
I have watched Spoll throughout the years intimidate and encourage the restructuring of Town employee’s positions that he disfavored. I have watched Spoll push and pursue cell towers and twist our code’s intent to accomplish that on Church property. I have watched Spoll urge for the redevelopment of the North end including his desire for a hotel and a vision of the complete commercialization of the waterfront from Mar Vista to Moore’s. And perhaps most importantly, he simply just walked into his seat on the Commission unopposed, without a vote except for himself. That is hardly a representative with any sort of mandate.
Now to his credit, Spoll is tireless. Even at 82 years of age he brings energy and passion to all that he does. But that energy and effort and insight is best kept in check as a commissioner and not at the helm. We do not need a return to the past when Longboat was in lawsuits with its own residents and commissioners cavorted behind the scenes with developers.