Recently three persons running for City Council banded together and issued a salvo of negativism to proclaim their alliance and to disparage the other candidates, including me. I am very sorry to see this. They said that none of their opponents is “worthy of representing the people of Marco Island.” Let me summarize why I think I’m worthy – an MBA from Harvard, CEO of two public companies, a company commander as a captain in the Army (with Airborne and Ranger designations). These all require that you know how to cooperate to get things done, how to analyze budgets, and how to make difficult decisions, how to listen, and how to lead. I’m a tough, frugal, accomplished executive with a solid 40-year track record of accomplishments and cooperation. And as a full-time homeowner here for over 5 years, I am fully qualified to represent the citizens of Marco Island.
The three candidates talk about a “lack of financial discipline” on the part of City Council. One of the candidate’s slogans is “stop the insanity,” and the three candidates talk about “spending out of control.” I may be the new guy, but I fail to understand these themes. They’re just not supported by the facts: The tax rate is flat, not up. Property values are falling, resulting in less tax revenue. In spite of that, the city has produced a surplus for two years. The city has come in under budget for two years. The city is more than $2 million under the spending cap. The city’s gross expenditures are below last year. The number of employees is the same as it was 3 years ago. The city’s debt rating has been upgraded. Can we do better? Certainly we can, and if elected I will rigorously apply my strong financial and analytic background to look for more opportunities to save money.
The three candidates talk about a “citizen disconnect” because they say ordinances are passed with short lead times and poor input, citing seawalls as an example. The lead times are published in accordance with Florida law, they are known to all the community, and they allow for as much citizen input as citizens request. No citizen is ever denied input – and the three candidates should know that, having provided hours and hours of input themselves. Back to the seawalls, I expect this to be a major topic for the new City Council. We need to know what’s done in other communities, and what alternatives exist. I will use my analytic skills, listening skills and study skills to help reach a decision.
The three candidates refer to a “consistent lack of transparency” and cite the 24/7 clinic referendum vote. I’m the only candidate on record as having opposed it before the vote – and on the night City Council approved it for the ballot, I urged them not to. But it was totally transparent! In the time I’ve been attending meetings, I’ve seen the council attempt to be more transparent. They may not have always been successful, but my pledge to the voters is to be fully open, to as for and listen to public opinion, and to explain my actions.
Strangely, the three candidates have a snarky complaint about others who are “coming late to the game, like some candidates who’d never been to a meeting until they decided to run.” The implication, I suppose, is that in order to be qualified to run, you have to go to City Council meetings and fail ever to make a difference, as some of these three have done, or even to get your point across, because you can’t work well with others, you can’t compromise, you can’t recognize that we’re a city of complex interrelationships.
Every organization needs new blood, fresh perspective, to blend with existing experience. This is what I bring. I started attending meetings over a year before I decided to run. After the meetings, I’d come home and talk with my wife, and she would listen and ask questions and respond, and over time I came to believe that I could add significantly to the quality of our city government. I approached two respected persons in the community to begin learning what might be required to serve successfully. I then began my own private “listening tour,” walking around the Island residential areas, knocking on doors to introduce myself and ask voters to support me. I started in June, continued in July and August, and I used September to cool off before starting up again.
I believe there’s a need for a tough, experienced voice on City Council. I believe my business background qualifies me, and I believe a fresh set of eyes can add needed perspective and depth. I’ve aligned with two incumbents – Jerry Gibson and Frank Recker – because I’m not a well known person on the Island, and because I share their positive outlook for all citizens. But make no mistake: I’m an independent voice, and I will always do the homework, study the issues, listen to input, and explain my decision.
Larry Honig | Marco Island