Meet The Candidates: St. Pete Beach

There are three candidates who are running for the mayor-commissioner seat in the St. Pete Beach Municipal Election. The position is a three-year term with an annual salary of $8,000. All other commission candidates are running unopposed. Elections will be held Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

Via email, the Gabber asked each candidate the same questions for this introduction, but will feature a more specific follow-up as we get closer to the election. Responses were limited to 100 words each, and have been edited for style and grammar only.

Initial treasurer reports can be viewed here.

Have a question for the candidates? 

The Gabber wants to hear from you! Please email your questions to Publisher@theGabber.com, with subject line “Election.” We will choose from your questions for our follow-up Q&A.

Introductory Q&As

1.What is your background and how long have you lived in the city of St. Pete Beach?

2.Why are you running for the mayor-commissioner position?

3.If elected, what three key issues do you want to emphasize?

4.What do you want voters to know about you?

 

John-Michael Fleig

  1. 1. I have been self-employed most of my life. I came to SPB on vacation in 2004 and just never left. I plan to live out the rest of my life in this town. I am co-founder of a popular SPB pet-friendly motel.

2. For too many years residents have complained the position is basically volunteer, and no one worthwhile runs for the seats. The same old people run and are elected by the same old voters. I think SPB is paradise and I want to respect the blessing. We chose to live in a vacation resort town, we are a top ranked beach due to our love and protection of the old world Florida lifestyle. Others try to win and buy votes. I want to earn them, as I want the job of mayor, not really enthralled by the title.

3. This commission doesn’t follow its own rules. It changes its mind on nearly everything. This is bad for business, and that’s bad for property values. SPB has the most codes on the books of any other county in the state. This is hurting homeowners and businesses alike. I will go through every line of codes. It’s time we had a town-wide discussion about making the commission full time and getting rid of the crony-entrenched volunteer boards. Parking is such an issue, we are ticketing and towing our mainland neighbors’ cars. This hurts local business.

4. I am not part of the crony, old guard buddy system. I love SPB and want to repair its un-neighborly reputation. I will be a heavy hands-on project mayor. I will care about the atmosphere of the town as a whole, not just the few opinions of perennial voters. Local mayor is both the first step in fighting for everyday citizens and also the last line of defense from overreaching county, state and federal governments. I don’t need to be mayor to feel validated, noticed or legitimized. I want to be hired for a job

 

Alan Johnson

1. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and over 35 years of business, management and engineering experience, with the last 25 years in Florida working as a supplier of materials and services to municipalities. I have called St. Pete Beach my home for nearly 19 years.

2. I am running for mayor because I have been contributing to this community for more than a decade and I want to do more.  I have the education and work experience suited to deal with the current and future challenges facing the city. My experience on the city’s Finance & Budget Committee the past five years provides me with detailed knowledge of the financial challenges we face moving forward.

3. I want to invest in our infrastructure and roads, manage the budget to keep taxes low, increase communication and transparency with residents and protect our beach community charm and character.

4. I have demonstrated the experience, leadership and team building skills that are necessary to unite our citizens to move the city forward without changing our beach community charm and character.

 

Deborah Schechner

1. My husband and I have lived in St. Pete Beach for over 16 years; we have two sons and three wonderful grandchildren. My background includes:

Vice President of our family business

Received my Bachelor of Science degree in Education

Member of Gulf Beaches Historical Museum

Appointed to the Pinellas County Task force on Sewers and Storm water

Served on the St. Pete Beach Finance and Budget Board

Served two terms on the Citizens Advisory Board for Pinellas County MPO

I currently serve on the Pinellas County Mayors Council, on the Board of Big C Barrier Island Council Communities – promoting issues important to us.

2. My experience and leadership through the sewer challenges and a development agreement are invaluable to move our city forward in the right direction. I love being the mayor of our city and it is a job I take very seriously. Right now that means fixing our sewers. Our staff is working hard on this, and I’m working hard to find outside funding. I am working with legislators to get our fair share of sales and tourist bed tax. My work ethic embraces transparency, collaboration, inclusion and conversations. Voters should elect me as mayor because we need an experienced mayor dedicated to St. Pete Beach.

3. Revenue sources for necessary repair, maintenance and upgrading our sewers and stormwater systems, continuing to navigate through appropriation, grants and other revenue sources. Repairing infrastructure also supports our economy, environment and quality of life. The health and safety of our residents is of prime importance. I’m working with our sheriff’s department who have been very responsive to my requests to increase patrols in our neighborhoods as well as supporting our excellent fire and EMS personnel for a more secure St. Pete Beach. Keeping our environment clean, sustaining our beaches, recycling and supporting an advantageous environment for our turtle nests, black skimmers and other wildlife.

4. My commitment to transparency is significant to my being mayor; everyone is welcome to the table. I listen. Cooperation and conversations allowed for a very proud moment when I successfully helped to accomplish an agreement between residents and a hotel, avoiding a costly lawsuit, and moving the city forward. Our family supports our troops, and we participate as a supplier in the local Homes for Heroes program; we contribute to Veterans of South Pinellas, and Support our Troops. As a small business owner I think out-of-the box for creative and effective solutions and team build with talented people to get things done.

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