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Longboat Key Election 2018 Candidates critique opponents, talk of Longboat’s smartest decision & more…

Welcome readers to Round 2 of our candidate questions. This week we asked more personal questions rather than all policy.

On March 20, 2018 Longboat Key voters must decide which commissioners to elect in three contested races. In the District 5 seat incumbent Vice Mayor Ed Zunz is facing challenger Randy Langley. In the At-Large District seat, incumbent Commissioner Irwin Pastor is facing Jack Wilson. Running for the District 3 seat is current Planning and Zoning Board Vice Chair Ken Schneier against John Weber. Last week, we mistakenly referred to Jack Wilson as “John” in the interview.

Here is what they had to say:

 

How do you distinguish yourself from your opponent and what skill-set traits or particular experience do you think make you the wiser choice?

Ed Zunz: While a teenager and during college I had after-school and summer jobs at a dozen different kinds of businesses.  After graduation from Columbia College and law school I spent 40 years with the same major law firm.  When I started, the firm had about 17 lawyers and an office in Newark.  When I retired the firm had grown to about 170 lawyers with two offices in New Jersey and branch offices in NYC and London.  During the strongest growth period and until I retired I was a senior partner, the chairman of the litigation department and a member of our small executive committee that ran the firm.  IBM, J&J and Prudential Ins. Co were among my major client responsibilities. While practicing law I served on and became Chairman of the Board of:  The New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners, our local YMCA and our local Parking Authority.  I was also the principal author of a legal textbook and served as an arbitrator on behalf of the American Arbitration Assn.   After moving to LBK I was President of our HOA for about a dozen years. I served on the LBK Board of Adjustment, attended dozens of Commission meetings, and have been a Commissioner for two years and Vice Mayor for one year.  I am a board member of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Council and am completing my third year as a member of the Christ Church K-3 Reading Buddies. I also manage my own diverse investment activities. All of these myriad job experiences, professional and business responsibilities, financial responsibilities, and community activities, with an unblemished record, make me uniquely qualified to continue on the Commission.

Randy Langley: Mr. Zunz is a pleasant, well-educated man. He is an attorney, quiet, He tends to focus on legal details for which we have a town attorney who is paid to address these issues for the town.  I will bring to the table twenty-five years of construction and development experience.  I will not hesitate to speak up if I feel the commission is being ineffective. I will always vote with the best interest of the residents of Longboat Key.

Irwin Pastor: I can only distinguish myself from my opponent by standing on my record and the accomplishments of the Commission during my two terms as Commissioner at- Large for the Town of Longboat Key. During my near 4 year tenure, Longboat Key has had the following positive major changes: the consolidation of our life saving emergency call center, Island-wide beach re-nourishment, under grounding utilities and fiber optic Island-wide, and the completion of the new Bayfront Park.

Jack Wilson: In my career history I first worked for the General Manager who reported to a Commission, (The Toronto Transit Commission) and my job was to write all his reports to the TTC. My next position was as Executive Director of a British public company, and I ended up as Director of World Operations. The CEO sent me to a post-graduate course run by the Harvard Business School in Vevey, Switzerland. Afterwards I left this company to own my own business. A great success. My skill set is impressive.

John Weber: We both come in on the same equal footing: Neither of us has ever served on the Town Commission, which makes any “experience” discussions completely moot. What sets my candidacy apart is that I am not afraid or encumbered or beholden to dealing with the issues that face LBK with the same tired, stale solutions. My career as a litigation adjuster taught me that success in life takes smart negotiating skills. But, equally important, realizing that in order to make positive progress among those with diverging opinions, a certain amount of innovation, implementation and concession needs to take place.

Ken Schneier: I know little about John Weber beyond the contents of his LBK Observer interview in November, 2017, in which he summarized his work experience for two insurance firms.  He has not been involved in LBK town affairs.  I was a partner in a law firm, CEO of a brokerage firm and Managing Director at Bank of America, running their international distressed debt business before retiring in 2009.  I have been a Longboat Key resident for 9 years, serving on the Board of Adjustment for 2 years and the LBK Planning and Zoning Board for 4 years, currently as Vice Chair.  I have been President of the 150-member Yale Club of the Suncoast and serve as Director of a manufacturing company and a volunteer docent at Mote Aquarium.  My wife is President of our HOA and a guardian ad litem in the Sarasota foster children’s program.  After years of working and raising our kids, we now enjoy serving our community and spoiling our grandson.

 

What do you admire or like about your opponent?

Zunz: Aside from his youth, I admire his ingratiating personality.

Langley: He has a great resume.  He has packed a lot of experience in to his 80 plus years.  We were neighbors when I first moved to the Island and I have nothing but respect for him and his accomplishments.

Pastor: I admire Jack Wilson for his personal accomplishments as a successful business entrepreneur and his prior experience serving as a public servant. Kudos for my opponent for campaigning and taking the high road by staying with the issues concerning our community. I wish him the best and encourage him to stay involved with our community.

Wilson: I met him once. He seems like a very nice guy.

Weber: I’ve met Ken and I think he’s a great guy. I believe that Ken genuinely cares about the community. He comes to meetings well prepared to discuss the issues. We just differ in some of the ways in which to implement those ideas.

Schneier: I admire John’s interest in becoming involved in our town.  There are many important volunteer positions here where one can learn about LBK’s history and management.

 

What are your skills or style that you can think will complement the Commission and help the board make wise decisions?

Zunz: My particular legal background causes me to be attentive to detail and especially deliberate in reaching final decisions.

Langley: Several of the current commissioners are/were attorneys.  That is not always a bad thing, but in this situation we pay the town attorney for legal advice. Diversity is important. Persons who have different experiences and perspectives regarding an issue who can come together and respectfully discuss options and concerns. I would be the only commissioner bringing recent experience in both construction and development.

Pastor: If someone would read my resume there would be one thing that would stand out whether it be serving for profit or not for profit organizations, in most cases, he was elected or appointed as the Chairman of the Board. My strongest complement with working with the Commission is base upon civility and the respect for the people who serve with me, and my thoughtfulness of listening to their thoughts before drawing any conclusions. This allows me to be good at facilitating wise decisions through group interaction, which leads to consensus.

Wilson: My skill sets are as above. Furthermore I think of myself as a “breath of fresh air” because of my unusual and diverse background.

Weber: All of the members of the present Town Commission understand the issues facing the Key. Its how we each deal with these challenges that sets both the present Town Commission and those candidates that are running for the Commission apart. As a Commissioner, I am ready to implement new and innovative solutions to our issues that move past the stale “this is how we always did it” mind set and starts moving the island in a forward looking vision that will take us in to the next decade and beyond.

Schneier: Local government, in general, is a highly regulated industry with many constituencies.  Longboat Key, in particular, faces the critical task of rewriting many of its ordinances to meet future needs.   My background in law, finance and governance should be helpful in both regards.  I try to focus the discussion to get to the heart of the matter and then build consensus.

 

If you were fortunate enough to own all by yourself 18 Acres of property on Longboat Key on the Gulf of Mexico and it was zoned tourism, what would you do with it and what would you like to see there?

Zunz: This is not a fair question to ask a sitting Commissioner at this time.

Langley: In order to have sustainability, I would most likely seek a mixed-use project with residences and a hotel.  That seems to be the current working model.  I am of course referring to the Ritz and others with a similar ownership design.

Pastor: As a Commissioner your hypothetical question although not site specific to the Colony Development is to close to the line for me to respond.

Wilson: Your question is obviously referring to the Colony rat infested property. I would like to see a sensible combination of tourism and condo units. The current proposal by Chuck Whittall seems very sensitive to our preferences. Let’s get on with it.

Weber: I would sell the property and divide the proceeds among the Charity’s that I support locally which are Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army, Resurrection House and The Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness.

Schneier: As a sitting member of the Planning Board set to adjudicate the Colony application next Tuesday, I’m afraid I am not permitted to answer this not-quite-hypothetical question.  However, I will say that between projects completed and contemplated, our island is in a position to fulfill its 12-year objective of regaining the critical mass of tourism felt necessary to introduce future owners and sustain year-round commercial enterprises.

 

What is the smartest decision Longboat Key has ever made?

Zunz: To not become another Miami.

Langley: Building bridges at both ends of the island and requiring the voters to approve increased densities.  With foresight, it would have been great had they built tall bridges that would not have required openings. This would likely have alleviated some of the traffic issues.

Pastor: The smartest decision Longboat Electors did was passing the Two Referendums for Island wide under grounding of utilities and fiber optics.

Wilson: To keep Longboat Key and it’s beaches in pristine condition.

Weber: The smartest decision LBK has made was by our voters when they went to the polls to express their disdain for density increases on this island. The voters here get it. They deal with the traffic daily. They deal with the strain on our services that come with over development. They realize very clearly that if we are not careful, we will effectively “kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”

Schneier: Down-zoning in 1985.

 

What is the least smart (dumbest) decision Longboat has made?

Zunz: Some would say it was not to make more pickle ball courts!

Langley: One issue was the removal of the numerous groins and structures that held the beaches and sand in place.

Pastor: I do not know of any decision made on Longboat Key, which I would call least smart or dumbest. What I do know once a board makes a decision whether you agree or not you must respect and support the decision and move on to the next issue.

Wilson: Not to recognize and solve the traffic chaos north and south of our island community.

Weber: Allowing Zota to redevelop the former Hilton property using a massive amount of density (39 units per acre) and also granting Zota an additional 85 tourism units upon which to add to their already over developed property.  The Zota property was far too small to have been allowed this level of density. This potentially opened the door to spot zoning and lead to the challenges that we encountered with the Colony redevelopment (and quite possibly, other developers that are looking to bend our zoning rules in the future.)

Schneier: Two:  1. The 2009 Loeb Partners/Longboat Key Club Development Plan (which was reversed by the courts).  2.  Incorporating in two counties (we are working to fix this).

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3 Responses for “Longboat Key Election 2018 Candidates critique opponents, talk of Longboat’s smartest decision & more…”

  1. David Siegal says:

    The posting by Susan Gravy, who may or may not be a proxy for Sproll/Brown, leads me to bear three things in mind. First, there has been no denial of the facts set forth in Mr. Langley’s affidavit. Instead distractions are offered. Second, the immediate resort to mud slinging and attempts at character assassination instead of responding on the issues and the facts, tells me what Mr. Langley says is true and that this faction of the commission is desperate not to have the curtain lifted to show what is going on.Third, a conviction 30 years ago (nonviolent and as a kid) is entirely irrelevant. It would be inadmissable in a court of law to impeach veracity or on the issue of character. Note – he has nothing in over 30 years – I don’t even think a traffic ticket.
    I have known Randy Langley well for ten years. I have spent hundreds of hours with him in a variety of settings, some stressful. He is an honest man. He is an ethical man. I was appointed by the New York appellate court to serve on the Committee on Character and Fitness, which I did for 17 years, performing ethics interviews and screening applicants for admission to the NY bar. With his civil rights having been restored by the Governor, if Mr. Langley were an applicant I would without hesitation pass him, as he is one of the most ethical persons I have met.

  2. Suny Gravy says:

    Since when does a convicted car thief have honesty and integrity in his background?

  3. David Siegal says:

    We need a person like Randy Langley on the commission. Honest, very experienced in development and construction, extremely intelligent and practical and cannot be swayed from protecting the interests of the taxpayers on the island

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