As of Tuesday morning, with less than four days left in the qualifying period, four Beach residents have filed the proper paperwork to run for the Fort Myers Beach Town Council. There will be three open seats on the local municipality board come March.
The qualifying period for Council elections began last Friday and runs until this Friday (noon Jan. 17, 2014 to noon Jan. 24, 2014). The general election for the open seats will be held March 11, 2014, and will be conducted on a nonpartisan basis without any designation of political party affiliation.
The three seats (#3, #4 and #5) are currently occupied by Vice Mayor Joe Kosinski and Council members Bob Raymond and Jo List. Of them, only Kosinski is eligible for re-election since both Raymond and List have served the maximum two consecutive full terms. Each Council term is for three years.
Three of the five Fort Myers Beach Town Council seats will be up for grabs at the plurality election on March 8. Who is next in line to occupy the seats?
So far, the Council candidates who have filed the proper paperwork are (alphabetically by last name) Chuck Bodenhafer, Rexann Hosafros, Joe Kosinski and Summer Stockton.
Below is some candidate background information as well as reasons for running, platforms and answers to posed questions.
-- Kosinski The current vice mayor of Fort Myers Beach stated he has 32 years of work experience as a licensed structural engineer and three years on Town Council after previously serving on the Town Local Planning Agency. His community leadership experience also includes serving as Board President of the Sand Castle Beach Club, three-year Governor of FMB Moose Lodge 964, and Third Vice Commander of American Legion Post 274. He is the current coordinator for the annual FMB Spirit of '45 event honoring WWII veterans and remains an active member of VFW Post 10097, Veterans Club of America Post 1, American Legion and Moose Lodge.
"I chose to run for re-election to Fort Myers Beach Town Council because there are several major town issues and policies to which I believe I can lend my experience, expertise and dedication," Kosinski said. "We have some major projects which have already begun, and I would like to continue working with the town residents and staff, our advisory committees, and Town Council to help bring them to fruition for the benefit of our town."
What do you believe are the most important issues on Fort Myers Beach? "The infrastructure of our island needs to be addressed. The water utility replacement has begun, along with the North Basin project (storm water management). There are ways to address flooding as will be seen with the North Basin and Estero Boulevard replacement. I would like to see this continue island wide, not all at once, but with small sections each year.
"I also believe that two other major issues -parking and traffic- will require a number of different approaches and "thinking outside the box" to solve these problems. I would like to see a coordinated and concerted effort between Fort Myers Beach, Lee County and possibly the State of Florida to develop unique approaches to these two issues. It will take a combination of projects and approaches as a beginning to start addressing these problems, and this town has the talent to accomplish that. This island welcomes all who want to visit here and the better we can accommodate them, the better for our island and our economy."
What would you do differently, if any, within your power than the current Council? "I do like the direction this council has taken. I believe this council has looked at issues fairly and with an open mind. The direction they have taken has been in the best interests of the town and individual property owners' rights. I believe the council works well with the staff in bringing major projects to fruition. I would seek to continue this direction and goals for our island community."
-- Bodenhafer The current Town Local Planning Agency member says he served 19 years on the Allen County (Ind.) Board of Zoning Appeals, 14 of those years as Chairman. Concurrently with that appointment, he served 16 years on the Allen County Plan Commission, 12 years as President, and
an entirely new Comprehensive Plan was written and adopted to include both the City of Fort Wayne and Allen County while he held this position. He also has served as the Insurance Broker/Consultant for Allen, Adams, Noble, Steuben and Dekalb Counties (all in Northeast Indiana) and was Insurance Broker for the City of Fort Wayne, City of Decatur, Albion, Kendallville, Angola and Shipshewana (all in Northeast Indiana).
"Years ago when I was on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Associated Builders and Contractors, we developed the motto, "either get into politics or get out of business. I have taken that to heart and been very involved in politics in Fort Wayne, the State of Indiana and national candidates from Indiana since the mid-1970s," Bodenhafer said. "I believe that by becoming a member of the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach, I will have the opportunity to give back to my new hometown. The safety and well being of our residents and visitors must be first and foremost. I also believe that we must continue the existing programs and efforts to enhance our Town such as the water and storm water plans, protecting our estuaries and continuing our work with the FAA to limit the noise and pollution over the Beach."
What do you believe are the most important issues on Fort Myers Beach? "Completion of the Estero Blvd. project and our potable water and storm water update/repair. Increase safety measures and provide a pedestrian crossing at every beach access. Keep our passes on both ends of the Island open for boating and work smarter on re-nourishment. I believe Council and Staff need to keep pressure on the FAA to restrict and control air traffic to keep the peace and quiet of our Island. Very importantly, I feel my extensive background in local planning will be a unique asset to our Town."
What would you do differently, if any, within your power than the current Council? "I would try to get more time with the FAA to reduce over island flights. Streamlining our permit process to make a "one stop shop" should be our goal. I would insist that the Town of Fort Myers Beach becomes an atmosphere of "what can we do to help you" so anyone who deals with our Town will leave feeling that Fort Myers Beach is a great place to live and work or just visit."
-- Hosafros - The current Town Public Safety Committee vice chairperson stated she has practiced law in various capacities. She says her longest tenure was on the bench in family court where, as a Magistrate, she developed skills in conflict resolution. She has also worked in her parent's gas station/auto repair business and taught high school. She has also been an officer of a condominium association board, worked with numerous community theatre projects and performed volunteer work with Chapel by the Sea.
"I believe we each owe a duty of service to our neighbors, our place of worship, our communities and our country. The Council person's job is a demanding and responsible position that those of us who can, should share," Hosafros said. "If elected I will concentrate on proper completion of the large projects which are underway, the water and drainage systems and Estero Boulevard. I believe we need to improve our relationships with other government entities and improve our communication with our residents and businesses. We should also recreate our town's image as a destination for seminars, continuing education, eco-tourism and the arts."
What do you believe are the most important issues on Fort Myers Beach? "Some of the important issues may not be apparent on the surface. A review and update of our codes and comprehensive plan will likely help us avoid problems before they arise. The large construction projects involving potable water, storm water and rebuilding Estero Boulevard will need a great deal of attention and scrutiny throughout."
What would you do differently, if any, within your power than the current Council? "I would like to spend time with various town employees learning the scope of their duties. This education would enable me to discern where we need to expand and/or where we could cut back our costs. In addition, I would like to reinstitute town hall meetings to learn from the public their ideas and concerns."
-- Stockton The current Bay Oaks Recreation Campus Advisory Board member says she is a local business owner and Beach home owner who has lived on the island since 1989. After maintaining honor roll status at Beach Elementary School and Bonita Middle School, she graduated as a member of the National Honor Society from Cypress Lake High School and Summa Cum Laude from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Forensic Studies. Shortly afterwards, she was hired by the State of Florida Department of Juvenile Justice as a Juvenile Probation Officer and remained there for two years when she decided to focus more on her business.
"I'm dedicated to the value of education and community involvement," Stockton said. "I am strongly supportive of meeting the needs of our children and have a high interest in enriching the lives of our senior citizens through the Bay Oaks Social Seniors group and other similar programs. I have been a team player participating in competitive sports and community activities my entire life here. I'm also an avid runner and train for 5Ks and half marathons. For relaxation, I enjoy spending quality time with my dogs and working in my garden. Additionally, I enjoy spending time on the water: boating, kayaking and paddle boarding."
What do you believe are the most important issues on Fort Myers Beach? "Some of the most important issues facing our town are water quality, traffic, Estero Boulevard improvements, noise issues and flood insurance rates. In order to make a prudent decision on any issue, council members must conduct extensive research, consider the requirements of the townspeople and make determinations that serve the community as a whole. I firmly believe Town Council members should seek out public input rather than waiting for public input to come to them."
What would you do differently, if any, within your power than the current Council? "As a candidate for Town Council, my primary mission is to sensibly handle necessary changes without compromising our small town atmosphere and qualities. I firmly believe Council members need to reach out to the townspeople for input rather than waiting for public input to come to them. I believe what has made this town so unique in the past is what will keep this town alive and thriving in the future."
According to Town records, a candidate for officers of the Town needs to address the following items to be qualified and file with the Town Clerk's office no later than noon on Jan. 24, 2014. If you are interested in running for the office of Town Council Member, please note the following requirements:
- Each member of the Council shall be a resident of the Town and a registered voter and shall have resided within the corporate limits of the municipality for a minimum of one year prior to qualifying for election.
- A candidate may announce his or her candidacy at any time, however, before accepting any contributions or making any expenditures, the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository form must be filed with the Town Clerk's office. The form must be filed before the campaign bank account can be opened.
- Within ten days of opening a campaign file, candidates must file a Statement of Candidate form.
- The qualifying period runs from noon Jan. 17, 2014 to noon Jan. 24, 2014.