On March 10, St. Pete Beach voters in the general election will choose either Rick Falkenstein (6441 4th Palm Point) or Joanne Lentino (7010 Boca Ciega Drive) as their next representative for District 2. Melinda Pletcher, who is running unopposed for District 4, will not be listed on the regular city election ballot, in accordance with Chapter 38-14(c) and, subsequently, there will be no election for District 4.
As a brief introduction to the candidates, the Gabber asked Rick Falkenstein and Joanne Lentino the same set of questions. The Gabber will feature another Q&A in mid-February highlighting the issues.
What is your background and career?
Rick Falkenstein: In the middle 40s, my grandfather settled on St. Pete Beach and built a small “Mom and Pop” motel that is still in the family. From 1962 through 1968, I would visit my grandfather, Bruno Reitano, and my aunts, Betty Reitano and Josephine Boyer over summer break from Baltimore, Maryland. Fishing, riding my bike thru the alleys, building sand castles and just having fun.
In 1974, I decided to move to our paradise, St. Pete Beach, to make this beautiful island city my home. In November 17, 1975 I registered to vote. In 1977 my family purchased the property next to the Keystone Motel, the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant at 809 Gulf Way. Our mom, Mary Falkenstein, brother Bruno Falkenstein, sister Mary Jo Micklitsch and I cleaned, painted, and purchased the necessary equipment to open July 1977. Motel and restaurant business is in my blood and is where I learned to serve people hands-on by being a good listener.
Joanne Lentino: Education: Pinellas County Schools
How long have you lived at your current address? In the area?
Falkenstein: September 1996; almost two decades. On St Pete Beach? 39 years; almost four decades
Lentino: I have been visiting SPB since 1959, when my grandparents moved there. I moved here permanently in 2003.
Who else lives with you?
Falkenstein: My three children, dog Rocco and cat Felix.
Lentino: [No answer given]
In 10 words or less, tell the voters why you chose to run for office at this time?
Falkenstein: To listen well, to care and to unite our city.
Lentino: I have family history here which gives me a special connection to St. Pete Beach.
What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing St. Pete Beach?
Falkenstein: Sewer system, lawsuits, comp plan, library, roads and sidewalks, transparency
Describe St. Pete Beach in three words.
Falkenstein: Home in paradise.
Lentino: Welcoming, active, vibrant.
What is the worst thing about St. Pete Beach?
Falkenstein: Sewer system
Lentino: If it rains two days in a row, sewers back up.
What is the best thing about St. Pete Beach?
Falkenstein: Our great diversity of people, housing, businesses and amenities.
Lentino: It’s a small community with all the amenities.