IRB Candidates Address Issues
By Renee Burrell
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - The issues which the citizens of Indian Rocks Beach (IRB) feel strongly about were put to the three candidates vying for the two open seats on the city commission Wednesday of last week when the IRB Homowners Association and The League of Woman Voters hosted Meet the Candidates Night at City Hall. The candidates are sitting vice mayor Terry Hamilton Wollin and challengers Don House and Phil Hanna. Commissioner Bert Valery is not seeking a second term.
Each candidate participated in a question and answer format moderated by the League of Women's Voters. The candidates had three minutes to introduce themselves and make opening statements, then took turns explaining their stances on such hot topics as the town's budget shortcomings, taxes, water and sewer rates, whether they support the library or not and what they foresee for future development.
For voter's convenience, all three candidates have created websites where they discuss in detail their views on the issues the new commission members will be challenged with.
Candidate Phil Hanna is originally from Indiana and said he hopes to hold cracker barrel sessions with fellow residents if elected. Hanna owns a production company and produces video and voice-over services for television. At the forum, Hanna said that earlier in his campaign he "took it to the streets" and asked citizens what their thoughts and concerns are. He videotaped their responses and makes them available on his web site at:www.votehanna.com. "It's amazing what you can learn if you listen," said Hanna. Hanna puts these issues at the top of his campaign list: the budget shortfall, maintaining the city's small town character, stabilizing the City Manager position, addressing building heights and setbacks and reviewing county funding for the Gulf Blvd. project, plus finding new revenue streams to build-up reserves and operate within the budget.
IRB resident and realtor, Don House, is chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and a familiar face at city meetings. House promised at the forum that if elected, he won't allow city hall meetings to get out of hand resembling WWE smackdowns. He says he's running for office because, of the city's nearly $1M in unauthorized loans, raised sewer and garbage rates, the tax millage rate increase to 34%, costly procedural errors, the possible revival of the opposed beach management plan and disturbing changes to our city’s master development plan. "We're facing some major challenges this year…changes to our comprehensive plan that can change our lifestyle," stated House at the forum. He explains his candidacy and ideas for improvements further at:www.houseirb.com.
Vice Mayor/Commissioner Terry Wollin Hamilton is seeking re-election. Wollin Hamilton has served as chairperson for the city's Planning and Zoning Board and currently sits on the Barrier Islands Governmental Council. At the forum Wollin-Hamilton stated, "IRB must have a commission that can deal with the current unprecedented financial storm…My experience is needed now more than ever." On her website, www.reelectterry.com, Wollin Hamilton pledges to, remain open and responsive to questions and concerns, help lead our city forward in a positive way, ensure open lines of communication between citizens and staff, balance the needs of the city against leaner budgets, protect and promote the harmonious working relationship that currently exists on the city commission, watch over height and density zoning issues, fight to preserve the small town atmosphere and take action to ensure that our beautiful beaches stay that way.
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