Incivility, time pressures take toll on elected officials, including Holmes Beach mayor

May 10, 2014 

Carmel Monti (right), Judy Titsworth and Marvin Grossman after their victories in the November 2012 Holmes Beach city election. Monti won the mayor's seat, and Titsworth and Grossman won commission posts.

In announcing his decision not to seek re-election in November, Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti articulated two of the top reasons why many of the best and brightest citizens decline to pursue public office.

Incivility, especially personal attacks, drowns out thoughtful discourse. Many people would rather scream than debate.

"Truly, I'm appalled and saddened by how disrespectful people can be," Monti told Herald reporter Amaris Castillo this week.

"What happened to being civil?"

We wonder, too.

The public square has been hijacked by the shameless.

His second reason points to the longstanding difficulty of elected office -- time away from family and career. Only the highest offices pay enough to support a family, and small cities pay a pittance.

The Holmes Beach mayor receives $1,000 a month (and commissioners get $500).

Business owners in particular suffer from the long hours serving citizens, and Monti explained that he hasn't been able to grow his My Garden Products LLC while in office.

Two tough issues have dominated Monti's 18 months in office -- beachgoer parking and vacation rental homes. Solutions have been elusive, and the next mayor will inherit those challenges unless a veritable miracle occurs in the next six months.

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