Vote for Pastor, Schneier, Langley and against the 2018 Charter

Editor & Publisher

This year is less difficult than most when it comes to making a recommendation on which candidates will best serve Longboat Key as we move into our future. And while democracy may be the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage, every so often the door must be pried open and a monkey or two must scurry out to make room for a fresh face. That is the case this year.

Irwin Pastor vs. Jack Wilson

We have to wholeheartedly recommend Irwin Pastor. But that is not a slight to Jack Wilson.

Let me start by saying that Wilson obviously has a winning personality and temperament. He thinks quickly and is impressive in answering policy questions succinctly and with certain flair. He is impossible to dislike. It is also clear that he has business acumen. He bought a failing manufacturing company that specialized in Teddy bears and other goods in Bristol, England and not only turned the operation around, but sold it to a major American operation for a handsome profit. Wilson does not appear to micromanage either.

The only flaws I see in Wilson’s campaign are twofold: his adherence to the idea of a third bridge to Longboat Key and the fact that he took on Irwin Pastor.

The fact is simple — Pastor is one of our strongest commissioners. Either he or Jack Daly should be our next Mayor. Pastor spent years and decades not only running his family-owned Pepsi distribution company, but expanding the operation into numerous states and product lines. His resume is impressive but even more importantly are his dual abilities of patient persistence and negotiation. He will be instrumental in Longboat Key becoming one county if that proves our best course. He was central in the Longboat Key Club approval negotiations. He was smart and focused at the Colony hearings last week and made the successful motion to approve the project that our community has labored over. He avoided the traps that lay in so many directions and tends to know instinctually what is best for our Key.

A smart community puts its faith in candidates like Pastor. Longboat Key is an extremely smart community.

Vote for Irwin Pastor.


Ken Schneier vs. John Weber

This case is also simple. Ken Schneier embodies what is most rare — the good qualities of a legal mind without the lost-in-the-details rabbit holes many attorneys wander down never to emerge from again.

In short, Schneier is smart. He understands the nuances and intricacies of Town Code, development and redevelopment, legislative action and judicial responsibility. But what he does goes beyond that — he has shown that he does not get stuck in a priori opinions and positions. He will listen and adjust. Furthermore, Schneier can make decisions and not micromanage the staff.

When Schneier voted to approve the St. Regis plan, it was he who recognized the importance of the size of the ballroom and its impact on the community. He listened and proffered a reasonable motion, which successfully was approved. It was a compromise we could all live with — applicant and community. Some on the board appeared more in the mode to kill the plan. Others wanted to bless the plan and not touch the ballroom. I like a board member who knows how to strike the right compromise. Chuck Whittall was a bit disappointed. The Preserve Longboat Key folks were a bit disappointed. But it was the right move — and it was not labored, it was instinctual.

Schneier will prove valuable in forging the future land development rules that will affect the look and feel of Longboat Key going forward. He has the capacity to be fair. He has no agenda — that will be refreshing on our Commission.

No insult to John Weber, but his responses to questions were encouraging from a philosophical point of view — against traffic and over-development — but lacked any implementation direction. They were more sentiments than initiatives. I feel Schneier has gotten his hands deep into the machinery without getting caught up in the gear of small-town politics. He will be a protector of Longboat Key and yet reasonable and balanced. We should trust Ken’s judgment and trust him with our Vote.

Vote for Ken Schneier


Randy Langley vs. Ed Zunz

On paper this decision would favor Ed Zunz. He has a resume longer than the longest receipt generated by CVS at the checkout line. He attended Columbia and graduated with a law degree and built a New Jersey law practice and held positions on numerous boards and organizations. Ed Zunz would get the first call for an interview over Langley.

But if you spoke to Ed and then Randy, you would walk away thinking Langley has a searing intellect, is decisive and those decisions would be strong and sensible.

After watching Zunz in action over the past two years, it is clear that there are serious issues when it comes to his ability to lead on the Town Commission.

First, let me be clear. The Commission is a body comprised of members. It has some very strong personalities who usually push and get their way. A few try and shape policy on the scene and behind the scenes. It has happened with the Colony. It happened with cell towers. It happened with the Longboat Key Club and it goes on in about every major issue. Longboat has all the beauty of a small island and the Commission all the dysfunction at times of a small family. It takes a strong personality to counterbalance some of the members of the Commission. Langley has that personality.

Before we look at what Langley could bring to the Commission, let’s look at some history with Zunz.



It’s not because of Ed Zunz that Longboat Key will be undergrounded, but in spite of him. We spent hours and hours and days over the machinations of Zunz’s proposals to finance the project. None of his ideas were pragmatic and none would garner the votes necessary to get the project done. It took the leadership of other commissioners to finally work out a methodology that was and is not perfect — but it was far better than what Zunz spent hours pushing unsuccessfully.

There is a point where the effort to get something done has to override the need for discussion and discursiveness. No battle could ever be won like this and no boardroom could be run like this. I don’t think the commission works well with endless C-SPAN like discussion.


The Colony

Even worse was the Colony hearing last week.

There would have been be no Colony approval that day if we had followed Zunz who recommended not reaching a decision on the day the vote was cast, but spending more and more time in discussions. But circular conversations lead right back to where they always do — the same place except everyone is exhausted. After all, time is not billable on the Commission or in Town Hall.

Zunz wanted to rest and come back at some future date and discuss the policy of the tourism units. He wanted to try and find a way to save the grandfathered 237 tourism units that the applicant was not even asking for in his proposal. The matter was not on the agenda.

Then, when that effort failed, it became a push of Zunz’s to try and not use “all” of the remaining tourism units the applicant was requesting from the pool the Commission controls.

But that, too, is out of touch. Using the 165 tourism units left in the pool is the highest and best use imaginable — it is leading to the redevelopment of the Colony site with a St. Regis Hotel and residences. You could hardly ask for a better result.


Floridays fiasco

On another occasion Zunz was on the wrong side of the issue.

It was Zunz who spoke in support of Floridays’ effort to rezone its property to build a hotel on the north end of the Key, which was an appalling prospect.

Now, Zunz is saying he wants another pool of tourism units that the Commission can dole out yet again.

Look at what happened at Zota.

Look at what almost happened at Floridays on the north end.

Zunz must not see that voters prefer to have a say in adding density project by project. After all, voters said “Yes” to the Key Club referendum and “No” to the oversized St. Regis last year as well as Floridays.

Longboaters are smart and can figure these issues out.


We need decisiveness…

Randy Langley is decisive. You can tell by talking to him he thinks clearly; he thinks on his feet and understands the issues.

I believe he has been successful in his career as a developer simply by working tirelessly, dealing with city commissions and keeping his word. His ability to understand the issues, the politics and the potential pitfalls and see both sides of a myriad of issues is impressive.

If you have doubts, talk to Randy Langley. He is clear and articulate. There is not an issue he does not understand or is not fluid in and he hasn’t even been on the Commission yet.

Langley deserves more than a chance.

We should be encouraged — he’s open and listens and would mark a change  — a breath of vitality and fresh air on Longboat Key.

Langley grew up the son of a Senator. I believe that these children of political figures do not all end up like many of the fallen Kennedy children. Sometimes they work harder to actually become something important and impressive in their own right.

Langley is only 53 years old — let’s give him a chance to work his butt off on this Key, to be responsive and bring all his energy and enthusiasm to the next generation of our island.

This is not a place where we need to further the dynastic representation that the Commission has become. Longboat Key should not be a club for the same thinking behind the same faces year after year and then decade after decade.

There are almost 7,000 residents on Longboat and yet we have the same names forever.

We never seem to replace the little Commission nametags in Town Hall — we just store them in a closet, dust them off and bring them out every couple years.

It is time for some new energy, direction and a breath of fresh air. Use whatever metaphor you like.

Your decision will benefit Longboat Key for many reasons.

Vote for Randy Langley.

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4 Responses for “Vote for Pastor, Schneier, Langley and against the 2018 Charter”

  1. Tee Dee says:

    Probably the most mean-spirited hit piece I’ve seen from your paper in all the years I’ve been living here—and that’s saying something.

  2. Merideth Nagel says:

    You have hit the nail on the head with Langley. I’ve worked with him for years and can tell you he is smart, tireless and extremely creative when it comes to solving problems/issues. He is a man of his word and will work tirelessly on council. When he works collectively he considers input on all sides, then makes his own decision based on the facts before him. He will always make the decision that he believes is in the best interests of the City, not his own political or business ambitions.

  3. David Siegal says:

    You have a clear sense of Randy Langley. I have spent as I have written before, hundreds of hours with him on these types of matters and you have nailed it. Smart, honest, well informed, will change his mind upon hearing new facts, and not a get along type of guy if he feels his feels the group dynamic is not producing the optimal resolution. And he will guard taxpayer dollars with a tight fist.

  4. who's on first says:

    Very good analysis on Randy Langley who certainly will appreciate your endorsement of his candidacy. I note you alluded to the character assassination by the “establishment” whose thinly veiled attempts to bring up youthful indiscretions from thirty years ago, in an attempt to derail his candidacy. Langley reminds me a lot of a former Commission member, the late Bob Dawson. Dawson, a CPA by trade, lost in his first run, than prevailed two years later, and proceeded to question the status quo at town hall.
    He was a conservative in a sea of Limousine Liberals, who never questioned the then Town Manager on his fuzzy budgeting. Good luck goes out to Langley, and hopefully if not successful this time, he can run again – perhaps at large against one of his detractors.

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