Finding a District Two Interim Commissioner

The St. Pete Beach Commission met Tuesday, May 13, to discuss the four candidates for the District Two seat, vacated last month when incumbent Jim Parent stepped down without explanation. The city will hold a special election in August.

Bryan Cummins, Rick Falkenstein, John Lazzari, and Joanne Lentino all submitted resumes and letters of interest. In a one-hour workshop before the regular commission meeting Tuesday evening, commissioners interviewed each of the four applicants. In the subsequent commission meeting, the commission voted to appoint Rick Falkenstein as the interim commissioner. Falkenstein will serve as commissioner until the August special election.

Cummins served on the planning board from 2007 to 2009 and has a background in tourism and property management. Falkenstein lives in District Two but runs the family-owned Hurricane restaurant in Pass-a-Grille. John Lazzari boasts a background in strategic planning. Joann Lentino, a former Rockette, worked for the City of Las Vegas as the Cultural and Community Affairs Division Center Coordinator and as a first grade teacher at Gulfport Elementary School.

Commissioners asked the candidates the same set of questions; below the Gabber has included a sampling of those questions and portions of the candidates’answers below.

Unique qualifications?

“I have a combination of both an MPA focused on economic development and I spent…my career in the tourism field.”– Bryan Cummins

“We started a business from the ground up. Little guys, and became larger and larger…We’re the little guys…We’re the heartbeat of St. Pete Beach.”– Rick Falkenstein

“Public service has always been in my heart…I think a love of public service is paramount.”– Joann Lentino

First order of business for your district?

“To reach out and bring us together.”–Rick Falkenstein

“An immediate priority, quite frankly, is a city manager. And if I have any say so, that person will be a resident.”– John Lazzari

“I would have to see what the long-term plan, the short-term plan is the city has in place. I don’t know that I would just want to throw something new out there once our city is already engaged in a particular plan; I would give a first nod to what was going on.”– Joann Lentino

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