Lakewood Ranch elections begin to take shape

kmoschella@bradenton.comJune 4, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Four incumbents and three newcomers have declared candidacies to lead the Community Development Districts that comprise Lakewood Ranch in what's shaping up to be an interesting fall election in the master-planned community.

According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections, four current supervisors from three CDDs, whose seats are up for re-election in November, have filed candidate paperwork during a prequalification period, which began Monday and will continue through noon June 16, when the weeklong, formal qualifying period begins.

Gilbert Pearce, secretary of CDD 1; Keith Davey, vice chairman of CDD 2; Alan Silverglat, treasurer of CDD 5; and Martin Cohn, assistant secretary of CDD 5, are all seeking re-election.

Formal voting on Election Day, Nov. 4, will take place at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

Country Club West, a newer area of Lakewood Ranch represented by CDD 6, is the first to announce three new candidates for three supervisor seats now held by Robert Burstein, Douglas Ferry and Richard Williams. The district has faced a contentious year in which residents first raised security guard protocol issues following several reported break-ins, then fought an interlocal gate agreement, fearing it would add to growing commercial traffic flow in their neighborhoods.

Williams is the only CDD 6 supervisor who has announced he will not seek re-election.

Ferry could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Burstein, who also serves as a committee chairman for the Wexford neighborhood, says he is still contemplating whether to run again.

"I am happy to see interest on the part of those who are running for seats on the CCD 6 board. I hope that others will step forward and challenge all three candidates, and in this way, give voters the ability to choose the best candidates to join with the two supervisors whose seats are not up for re-election," Burstein wrote in an email.

Seats held by Jane Bruyer, secretary, and James Hill, vice

chairman, expire in 2016.

In March, Burstein suddenly resigned as chairman of CDD 6, saying he felt threatened by opposition he encountered when he voted in favor of the interlocal gate agreement with districts 2 and 5 to share the cost of operating and maintaining the two gates guarded by security in Lakewood Ranch -- at Balmoral Woods, the entrance to Country Club West off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, and at Legacy Boulevard, the entrance to Country Club East off University Parkway.

More than 350 Country Club residents had opposed the agreement, asking for another hearing to reconsider the issue, including the three new CDD 6 candidates who have announced their intentions to run for office: Susan Ellis, Jim Rogoze, and Hank Hofeler.

Ellis is the neighborhood chairwoman of Edenmore and vice president of the Country Club West Homeowners Association.

Rogoze is the neighborhood chairman of Silverwood and secretary of the association.

Hofeler serves on the Greystone Neighborhood Committee and has held management positions for a condominium and a homeowners association in Ohio, where he previously lived.

All three candidates have formally issued a pledge to the voters of District 6, which includes strengthening lines of communication with residents, embracing their input and being fiscally responsible so residents get maximum value for every dollar spent.

"We want to make residents feel they are part of the process, and we want to keep an open mind. We want residents to participate, and this shouldn't be hard because we're a small community," said Rogoze, who was involved in community affairs as president of a Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, where he lived and owned a business.

All three candidates plan to formally file their paperwork with the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections next Tuesday.

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