Greetings from the Gulf: February

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Ready to hit the campaign trail? You’d better hurry!

By John Morton

If the new hotels are going to be built, at least one of them needs an escalator. After all, with the favorable incorporation vote from local legislators behind us, there’s now a chance Siesta Key is going to have its first town council election. And you can’t tell me that someone isn’t going to want to dramatically descend into a cheering lobby of supporters to announce his or her candidacy.
And then there will be pressure to trump that. Couldn’t help myself there.
Horw about landing on the public beach via a star-spangled parasail? Or donning an Uncle Sam suit while surfing atop the trolley?
Walking barefoot along a lava-hot Point of Rocks? Absolutely! What a photo op!
One-upmanship will be critical if you want to stay on my front page, especially when you consider you could find yourself in a two-year race. If the Florida Legislature votes in favor of the incorporation bill in the coming months, and you believe the local referendum– which would take place in November of 2024 — will pass, you would be up for election in March of 2025. So, you might as well declare sooner than later! Imagine what you can accomplish in 24 months!
You could fix all the sailboats at Beach Access 8. Twice.
You could add the letter “e” to the broken Midnight Cove sign. The thing’s driving me nuts.
You could sharpen that shovel and pitch a tent at Midnight Pass.
You could create a dance step to go with the Frog Hop croak.
You could personally end the recent surge in karaoke nights by tapping into that inner Barry Manilow of yours.
I’d even say you could negotiate the removal of the words Siesta Key from that dumpster fire of a TV show, but that is more worthy of the U.S. presidency – not just some little ol’ town council seat.
Not to diminish the importance of that first group, provided this all goes down. Remember, it is not a paying position and these poor political rookies will be tasked with creating the team’s playbook.
The plan for now is to have the top three vote-getters serve four-year terms and the bottom two serve two-year terms, so a staggered election cycle is created. I suppose you want to win, but not by too much?
It will sure be interesting to see who throws their hat in the ring. The same old names you hear? Or maybe some newbies? Or a combo?
Will members of the Siesta Key Association board be a natural fit? Or those on the Siesta Key Condominium Council’s board?
The current and past members of Save Siesta Key have all said their intention is not to parlay their involvement into a council seat. Will that hold true?
One thing for sure is how neat it would be to hold the title as Siesta Key’s first-ever mayor. That will be elected not by the populace but by the five-person council, which takes away a bit of the prestige I suppose. In municipalities with a town manager structure, which the Key would have at least for starters, the mayor position is seen as mostly ceremonial while he or she has no more power than the other council members.
But make no mistake – the mayor will be in high demand and will play a critical role in keeping morale high during the growing pains.
History buffs will know that a person with the title of mayor did roam the Key at one time – as in a little more than a century ago. I don’t want to be Morbid Morty here, but his name was Harry Higel, he was the mayor of Sarasota, and he was murdered on Beach Road.
And get this – the editor of the local newspaper was arrested for the crime! He would be released because the evidence was mostly circumstantial.
Good thing history never repeats itself!
Hey, you know who would make a good mayor? Steve Cavanaugh. I’m sure he’s ringing my phone in a fit of rage upon reading this. He recently sold his business and is enjoying life.
But he was the chairman of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce’s board, and having an appreciation of business here is, and would be, crucial. Many times when towns are born, the business community gets worried. It’s the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) affect they fear.
But get a load of this: Cavanaugh’s email address is How in the world did he get that? It’s as if he got to pick first.
With an address like that, it seems like fate. And a good way for the town to avoid those pesky domain costs.
Then there’s Catherine Luckner, who already feels like the mayor in my mind. She’s the omnipresent Siesta Key Association president.
Tim Hensey, who became chairman of the incorporation group for its second attempt and brought it to the victorious vote Jan. 12, has certainly been mayoral in his approach. Plus, he has a power drill and he’s not afraid to use it. You should have seen him crank away on his Vote Yes signs with the 87% straw vote approval update. That project didn’t even require membership on a honey-do list.

Tim Hensey, loving his labor. (submitted photo)

Meanwhile, I think the legislature will sign off on this. Sure, some will say “no new taxes” out of principle, but most lawmakers likely will, and should, consider it a local issue that doesn’t impact them one bit.
As for a local referendum, you really can’t scoff at that 87% approval rate from the 41% voters who responded. All that’s needed on the big day is 50%-plus-one of those who cast a ballot.
I can’t blame the incorporation group for making the concession with state Rep. Mike Grant to wait for major election dates to hold the referendum and local election. Another no vote would have been devastating, seeing as it requires a complete do-over. Patience is indeed a virtue, it has discovered.
But two more years of waiting? That’s an eternity to see how this all shakes out, especially when the initiative is already almost two years in the making, but at least we can now take our sweet time.
So what if our campaign signs will have their own campaign signs by then?

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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