Two seats are up for grabs when voters eye the November general election of the Fort Myers Beach Board of Fire Commissioners this November.
The qualifying period is over for that independent special district and two others on the Beach. Long-time FMB Mosquito Control District Commissioner Henry Rothenberg was the sole qualifier for seat #1 and thus retains his position on the three-member board that includes Joanne Semmer and Alta Whipple. Four FMB Public Library District qualifiers for four seats also ran unopposed: Alison Throckmorton will now take over seat #1; Debbie Whitehead retains seat #2; Jack Green takes over seat #3; and Mark LaFave retains seat #4. The new members (long-time board members Katie Corning and Karen Swanbeck did not re-seek office and are thanked for their service) will be sworn in on Jan. 27, 2015.
For the Beach Fire Board, three Beach residents were set to challenge incumbents in Seat #1, Seat #3 and Seat #5. Chairman David Brower will face former FMB Councilman Bob Raymond in the first seat, and Commissioner Ted Schindler looks to re-seek office against candidate Edward Milde, Jr. in the fifth seat. Long-time board member Carol Morris was set to go up against candidate Eric Huntsman in Seat #3, but Huntsman had to withdraw due to a family medical emergency in Indiana.
For Raymond, retirement was not going to happen after serving two terms on Town Council. He stated he cares "too much about the Beach" to just fade away.
"I decided to run because I think we need a fiscal conservative on the Fire Board," he said. "I think I can help with policies and procedures that will help both the taxpayer and the Department. I think that the Fire Control Board needs a change from someone that has not been on the inside."
Milde has lived in Southwest Florida for over 23 years and for the past eight years has resided and worked on the Beach. After being active in the political arena in Cape Coral and Lee County in the early- to mid-1990s, he has been active with the Community Emergency Response Team program on the Beach for the past five-plus years.
"I decided that it was appropriate to become active again in the local politics and hopefully be able to make a difference for the community," he said. "The area is enjoying a positive growth and recovery period lately. Tourism has been steadily increasing the last few years and home sales are returning. This brings financial boons back to our Beach, but we need to remain fiscally responsible with our decisions as we continue to move forward. There are great men and women working in our Fire District, and we need to responsibly provide equipment, training and stability for them and also provide great service to our residents and guests."
While not directly related to Fort Myers Beach, two seats have contenders in the upcoming County Commission race. The primary election will be held Aug. 26, while the general election will take place Nov. 4. Beach resident Larry Kiker serves the Beach community as the Dist. 3 commissioner.
For seat #2, incumbent Cecil Pendergrass opposes Paige Rausch. In a crowded Seat #4 race, incumbent Brian Hamman will face Andy Coy, Debbie Jordan and Sawyer Smith.