Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Development is among the issues as six vie for commission seats in Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND — With the recent hiring of a new manager and three commission seats up for election, voters will be writing some new history for the city on March 13.

Whether Larry Lunn or Mel Lenehan wins the mayoral race, a new face will lead city government. Mayor Bob Minning is stepping down after nearly a decade in office.

Similarly, the District 2 City Commission seat will be filled by a new face, no matter who wins. Voters will be picking between political newcomers James Buchyn and Tyler Payne.

RELATED: Treasure Island chooses new city manager

The only incumbent running for re-election is District 4 Commissioner Ken Keys, who is being challenged by long-time city activist Heidi Horak.

One of the biggest the issues facing city government is how to pay for maintenance of the east causeway and bridge. The city is negotiating with St. Petersburg over possibly sharing the costs and is considering whether to re-institute a toll on the bridge.

Another issue the commission will have little control over is a move in the Legislature to restrict home rule for cities and sharply increase the homestead exemption for homeowners — a prospect that could strain the city’s budget and property tax rate.

And, of course, there is the recurring issue of development. In a referendum last year, city voters again clearly opted for lower height and density projects. Now the commission is faced with sharpening the rules for future construction projects.

These and other issues will be discussed during a debate between the mayoral candidates Tuesday. A debate for commission candidates will be held on Feb. 7. Both events are at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

Here is a look at the candidates:

Mayor: elected citywide to a three-year term; $7,800 salary

Lenehan, 56, moved to Treasure Island from Dallas in 1997. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and has more than 30 years’ business experience. She is former owner of the Sunset Beach Cafe, owns a Treasure Island apartment complex and is a licensed real estate agent. She is a 17-year member of the Islettes, and is secretary of the city Hotel/Motel Association and the Sunset Beach Civic Association, among other groups. She regularly publishes a personal newsletter for city residents.

Lenehan is seeking her first elective office but has been active for years in city affairs and politics, often speaking at city meetings. She says "money and the future of Treasure Island" are her main issues.

"The citizens of Treasure Island deserve much more than what they are reading in my newsletters," Lenehan says. "Let’s not jeopardize the needs for tomorrow for the ones today. Do not raid our funds for the future."

Lunn, 81, was appointed to the District 2 commission seat in 2016, and was elected unopposed last year to serve the remainder of the term of former commissioner Tim Ramsberger. He is a retired lawyer and former director of the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Lunn has lived in the city since 2006 and is originally from Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University with degrees in electrical engineering and law. He was a real estate broker associate in Indiana and had a private law practice for 30 years, specializing in real estate, estate planning and personal injury. He is a member of Friendship Community Church, Gulf Beaches Rotary, Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce, among other groups.

Lunn says he would focus on making sure Treasure Island moves into the future while preserving its "small town atmosphere." Among the items on his wish list are a reinstatement of tolls to fund maintenance of the causeway bridge and a new municipal complex that includes a parking garage to accommodate visitors, particularly during major events.

"I absolutely love this community and want it to get the recognition it deserves, to not be stuck in the 1950s," Lunn says. "I am going to add enthusiasm to the job of mayor."

District 2 commissioner: elected by district residents to a two-year term; $5,400 salary

Buchyn, 55, has lived in the city for the past eight years and serves as chairman of the city’s Code Enforcement Board. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and moved to Florida 30 years ago. He works for FIS in St. Petersburg.

Buchyn says he would give a "fair hearing" to all viewpoints. He says while firmly opposing over-development, he would work toward revitalizing the city’s economy, finding ways to renovate existing structures "to create attractive venues" without changing building footprints.

"I’ve been able to observe and mediate many of the concerns important to Treasure Island residents," Buchyn says, citing such issues as short-term rentals and run-down properties. He says he will "avoid vanity projects" and focus on listening to residents rather than developers.

Payne, 27, is a third-generation city resident and is seeking his first elective office. He graduated from the University of Florida and holds a law degree and a master’s in business from Stetson University. Payne is director of administration for St. Petersburg-based Optimart. He previously served on the city’s Charter Review Committee and is a member of Leadership Florida and Florida Blue Key.

He says he can "bring a fresh perspective" to the commission and particularly wants to be a voice for residents who don’t normally participate in city politics.

"I want to give back to the community where I live. I think this is where I can have the most impact," Payne says. "I have a vested interest in preserving our beach community for generations to come."

District 4 commissioner: elected by district residents to a two-year term; $5,400 salary

Horak, 55, has been a Treasure Island homeowner and resident since 1992. She is a Florida attorney with a practice in probate and real estate law. She earned a master of laws degree in 2012 from the University of Florida, a law degree from Northeastern in 1990, and a bachelor’s degree from Union College in 1984.

She served as a member and chair on the Planning and Zoning Board for seven years and was a member of the Beach Stewardship and Flood Mitigation committees. She is past president of the Sunset Beach Civic Association.

"I have a history of leading on planning issues and taking a studied and detailed approach to making important changes to modernize our zoning laws while always considering the environment," Horak says. "I am running because I feel my experience will benefit the city."

Horak says she is an advocate for responsible redevelopment, conservative fiscal policies and environmental stewardship.

Keys, 53, has been a full-time resident since 2013 and previously lived in the city from 1994 to 2002. He is a partner in the firm Therapy Beds Direct, specializing in medical/trauma beds for burn victims and has contracts with the Veterans Administration in six states.

Keys has served on the commission for one term and is seeking re-election. He says he is proud of his record helping to pass the "leave no trace" ordinance, which protects the city’s beaches. If re-elected, he wants to focus on encouraging development within the city’s low-rise zoning guidelines and to be an advocate for residents.

"I want to be able to find solutions so we can say yes to what residents want," Keys says. "Last time I ran on a platform of no tolls and no tall buildings and no property tax increase."

     
   
Comments
Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

Mazzaro’s gets ready to reopen

day after an electrical fire broke out in its dry goods warehouse Friday night.Dominic Horwath, a grocery manager at Mazzaro’s on 22nd Ave. N, said staffers spent Monday and the weekend moving things into other warehouses.The damage from the fire at ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

WashingtonPentagon suspends August drills with South KoreaThe Pentagon on Monday formally suspended a major military exercise planned for August with South Korea, a much-anticipated move stemming from President Donald Trump’s nuclear summit with Nort...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
St. Pete heroin dealer delays sentencing by firing another lawyer

St. Pete heroin dealer delays sentencing by firing another lawyer

TAMPA — William Harold Wright was supposed to learn his punishment Monday for bringing massive shipments of heroin to the streets of St. Petersburg.Instead, the convicted drug dealer once again ditched his attorney and declared his innocence, cutting...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

UPDATE, 6:40: Cash said he had a good talk with Hechavarria, and that he understood the situation. Cash said Hechavarria will get to play some, and when he does it will be at short. … RHP Chris Archer (abdominal strain) is slated to throw a bul...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Geneva‘Gaming disorder’ named a diseaseThe World Health Organization on Monday officially recognized "gaming disorder" as a condition in its International Classification of Diseases, saying that it is possible to be addicted to video games. Simply pl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kevin Kiermaier set to rejoin Rays Tuesday

Kevin Kiermaier set to rejoin Rays Tuesday

CF Kevin Kiermaier is here in Houston and will work out with the Rays today, and said that if all goes well he will be activated on Tuesday.That would be a couple days ahead of his most recent timetable, which had him slated to return to Friday.Kierm...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is pushing back against a social media post implying that a combat-wounded New Port Richey veteran has a Nazi symbol tattooed on his arm.In a tweet Monday afternoon, ICE officials denied the vete...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Column: Fane Lozman’s long fight to criticize Riviera Beach may go on, Supreme Court rules

Column: Fane Lozman’s long fight to criticize Riviera Beach may go on, Supreme Court rules

Fane Lozman, a consummate citizen-critic of local government affairs, exercised his First Amendment right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The government in this case was the city of Riviera Beach.He was led off in handcuffs ...
Updated: 2 hours ago