In Anna Maria election, Carter, Copeland, Jaworski for City Commission

October 25, 2013 

The Nov. 5 City Commission election in Anna Maria features four candidates vying for three seats, and voters can thus choose three names. Carol A. Carter, Doug Copeland, Michael Jaworski and Dale Woodland are competing for chairs on the dais.

Carol Carter

Carter's resume reflects broad experience in leadership roles, including as vice chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, vice president of Duquesne University and a trustee at McDaniel College, her Maryland alma mater. With a master's degree in human development, she spent more than three decades as a charitable gift fundraiser -- helping nonprofit institutions attract $1 billion.

An Anna Maria homeowner since 2001 and resident since 2006, Carter has maintained her ties to higher education and charitable causes here with service as vice president of the New College Foundation. A past board member of the Anna Maria Island Community Center, she currently sits on the Anna Maria Planning and Zoning Board, so she's well acquainted with municipal issues.

That strong track record and broad experience would be valuable to the city.

Carter is seeking office for three reasons: to be a positive advocate of balancing the interests of residents, businesses and visitors; to work on restoring a more gentile way of life, and to put a priority on the enforcement of ordinances and codes -- the latter being one of the key issues in Anna Maria. She also supports business, especially family and small operations, as the job creators in the city.

While some residents disdain the impacts of tourism on traffic and parking and want to clamp down, Carter stakes out a moderate and sound position with her focus on balancing community interests.

She's also on target with her desire to protect the island city's fragile environment. The "green" eco-friendly developments along Pine Avenue prove that to be a wise policy.

In response to a Herald query, Carter stated that this is the "moment in time" for her to step forward and make a difference. We agree. Her credentials have proven her skills in leadership.

The Herald Editorial Board recommends Carol A. Carter for the Anna Maria City Commission.

Doug Copeland

Anna Maria residents hold Copeland in high regard. His dedication to civic improvements and community service dates back decades. A year ago this month, Copeland stood before a City Commission meeting to accept the Citizen of the Year Award.

His list of public work is impressive: two decades on the city's Planning and Zoning Board, including as chair, and membership on the Comprehensive Plan Review Board. He also helped develop the Anna Maria historical park on Pine Avenue and the landscaping at Bean Point.

Not surprisingly, in June he was appointed to the commission to serve the remaining five months in the term of a commissioner who resigned. Copeland was immediately and unanimously elected vice chair.

A woodworker, he has been a supporter of the Pine Avenue development that brought quite a number of two-story, Key West-style buildings with retail on the ground floor and residential above. He noted the city had been wanting this type of development for decades, though some residents and officials fought the Pine Avenue Restoration partnership's plans.

Copeland applauded PAR for only building two-story structures when the city allows three, and he also appreciates the type of quality small businesses that arrived -- not a T-shirt shop in sight. We agree on all counts. PAR elevated Anna Maria's status in the world by leaps and bounds.

The city has always had a tourist economy, a good thing, Copeland says, even as homeowners cash in on high prices in the island's hot real estate market, with residences either being converted to vacation homes or demolished for new construction.

Copeland accepts change, even as others hope to turn the tide in a market they cannot control. So Copeland hopes to maintain the laid-back atmosphere as change occurs, a more realistic approach.

A longtime Anna Maria resident -- he purchased his home here in 1974 -- Copeland told this Editorial Board he's not really campaigning and is more a "reluctant" candidate. But, he says, "I'm surprised that I enjoy being a commissioner."

His commendable record of public service speaks volumes, and his pragmatic approach to policy is appropriate. He has earned a full term on the commission. The Herald Editorial Board recommends Doug Copeland for Anna Maria City Commission.

Michael Jaworski

A part-time employee of Anna Maria's public works department and a retired Ford Motor Co. employee, Jaworski is seeking political office for the first time. Like Copeland, he's running a low-profile campaign that is not accepting contributions. He joined the race to give voters a choice of candidates in the wake of the last election when nobody signed up for the mayoral contest.

"I am a diversely educated, free thinking individual who is willing to take the time to listen and respect each citizen's concerns," he informed this Editorial Board.

He intends to preserve Anna Maria's quaint, small-town appeal, protect the environment and promote openness. One key issue will be solving the city's parking crunch and allowing convenient access to both businesses and vacation properties while also addressing all interested citizens' concerns, he says.

Jaworski also cites striking a balance between business and resident interests to foster a vibrant community that features inclusiveness and diversity as well as job creation.

Like other island candidates, he plans to seek a higher return on the county's resort tax and divert some of that money away from tourism promotion and into island infrastructure -- in Anna Maria, the city pier in particular.

Currently, the county's focus has been on beach renourishment, but we agree the county's Tourist Development Council should invest more in other projects that benefit islanders and visitors alike.

Jaworski admits he faces a learning curve if elected, but vows to work diligently to learn the ropes. He would bring a fresh perspective to the commission. The Herald Editorial Board recommends Michael Jaworski for Anna Maria City Commission.

Candidate rebuttals

Candidates who do not receive the Herald Editorial Board's endorsement are invited to submit a response of up to 300 words by noon on Oct. 28.

Those can be sent to letters@bradenton.com or faxed to 745-7047.

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