VENICE – Four people qualified to run for seat 4 of Venice City Council by 12:30 p.m. Friday, setting up the possibility that the winner only needs to receive 25% of the vote plus one, since there is no provision for a second round in the city charter.
Ronald Courtney, who lives in Sawgrass; Jennifer Lewis, who lives on the island of Venice, and Chris Simmons, who lives in the Toscana Islands, will join Venice Island resident Jim Boldt in the November ballot.
Incumbent Rich Cutero has refused to run for a third term.
The race for seat 3 is more traditional, with incumbent Helen Moore running for a second term against challenger Sandy Sibley.
Of all the hopes, Courtney has the most experience with the city of Venice. The 19-year-old resident has served as vice chair of the environmental advisory board.
He said that after six years of advisory service, he wanted to become someone who could make the decisions.
A retired postman from Schenectady, New York, Courtney hopes to follow in the footsteps of former city council members Fred Fraize and Jim Bennett – both of whom live in Sawgrass.
Fraize served one term in Seat 3, before being defeated by Moore three years ago, while Bennett retired after two terms in Seat 4 and was replaced by Cutero, who met with no opposition in his two campaigns.
Lewis, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, said she decided to run after talking with friends. She has been coming to Venice since 1992 and moved full time to the area in 2018 to take care of her mother.
A former advertising sales representative, Lewis got into real estate in Florida. She says that she is not a politician and that she takes pride in the fact that she is a recovering alcoholic and that she is interested in social service programs.
Simmons, who served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel, was later trained as a counterintelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency – essentially a spy catcher.
He grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia, and then lived in Loudon County, Virginia, where he was a member of the Soil and Water Conservation District.
An environmental advocate, he was active with Hands Along the Water during the 2018 red tide and, among other things, is interested in nutrient reduction in stormwater retention ponds.
A resident of Venice for four years, Simmons has noticed the decline of local wildlife as their habitat is fragmented by development.
All three candidates – along with Boldt, who filed earlier this month – have an interest in promoting responsible growth and want to know more about the impact of the new draft regulations on land use planning that will impact the way growth is regulated in the city.
All four said they were in the learning stage of this document.
The same could be said for Sibley, the seat 3 challenger to incumbent Moore, who also served on the Venice Planning Commission.
Members of the Venice council can serve up to three consecutive three-year terms, but can stand again if they wish, after being absent from an electoral cycle.
The six city council members earn $ 10,200 per year and the mayor, who technically occupies seat 7, earns $ 12,000.
Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be contacted at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.