Candidates vie for vacant district seats in Lakewood Ranch

nwilliams@bradenton.comOctober 12, 2012 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lakewood Ranch residents in community development districts 2 and 5 will cast their votes for new representation on their respective district boards Nov. 6.

There are only two contested seats in Lakewood Ranch this election and three seats will be appointed by district supervisors. The remaining open seats will be filled by uncontested candidates.

Community districts are special local governments created by home developers and later switched to resident control once the district reaches a certain number of registered voters as residents. Board supervisors are entitled to a $200 per meeting reimbursement at a maximum of $4,800 per year.

In District 2, which serves the Country Club and Edgewater neighborhoods, residents Mike Finney and Jerry Twiggs are battling for the district seat being vacated by longtime supervisor and current district 2 chairman Bob Stepleman.

Finney, 65, has owned a home in the Edgewater neighborhood since 2007 and serves on the Edgewater-Sound Committee. He is also a neighborhood representative on the Country Club-Edgewater Village Association (CEVA) landscaping committee. A small business owner, Finney provides solutions for companies that use chemicals and natural materials by connecting them with manufacturers.

"I've attended about all of the meetings, not only the CDD meetings but CEVA as

well, and you start seeing the inner workings of the community and understanding what it takes to make certain things happen," Finney said. "What the driver is for me, I really care about Lakewood Ranch as a community and I'm very interested in being involved in the betterment of the community. Not only the maintenance but what's going to happen in the future."

Twiggs, 60, has lived in the Watercrest condominiums since 2007 and has served as president of the Watercrest Condominium Association the last four years. Twiggs was an electrical engineer and lawyer in Alabama and now works as the chief operating officer at Peace River Electric Corporative.

"I like to get involved in the community and I like to give my time to the community and I would like to see Lakewood Ranch develop," Twiggs said. "Hopefully we can continue to grow and I'd like to be involved in that process. With my legal and engineering background, I can offer those skills."

In District 5, which serves Country Club South, supervisor Tom Leavy is being challenged by CEVA president Ned Richardson.

Leavy, 77, has served the district for six years. Leavy, who has lived in Lakewood Ranch since 2005, was appointed to the board by the developer in 2006 and was elected in 2008. Leavy also serves on the Siena neighborhood committee and is a former vice president of the U.S. Postal Service.

"I'm committed to the job and I enjoy it," Leavy said. "I enjoy working on issues that pertain to the district and Lakewood Ranch in general, as well as Country Club. I'd like to continue another four years."

Richardson, 71, has been president of CEVA the past two years and has acted as chairman of the Siena neighborhood committee for four years. Prior to moving to Lakewood Ranch, Richardson worked in banking, specifically with federal reserve banks in Ohio.

"I've been involved through the community government process and I think we need some fresh thinking in CDD 5," Richardson said. "I think current leadership has done a good job, but I think the community needs some fresh thinking. My skills are in the areas of planning and organization and getting community input. There are some long range things to focus in on in our CDD."

District 1 and District 6 supervisors will appoint residents to vacant seats on their respective boards. The seat in District 1, which serves Summerfield and Riverwalk, was vacated by Gary Berns last week. Two developer-controlled seats will be turned over to residents in District 6, which serves Country Club West.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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