Two Lakewood Ranch district seats to be contested in Nov. election

kmoschella@bradenton.comJune 21, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Residents of the Summerfield, Riverwalk and Country Club communities of Lakewood Ranch will have some choices to make this fall when they vote in the Nov. 4 General election.

One seat in each Community Development District will face a challenge, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections, following the completion of the countywide candidate qualifying period Friday.

In CDD 1, seat 3, currently held by supervisor Phyllis Troy will be up for grabs between residents Gary Berns, a former CCD 1 supervisor, and newcomer, Laura Fox. Troy will be leaving her position after serving 12 years on the board.

Berns, a Summerfield resident who moved to Lakewood Ranch 15 years ago, has a long history of serving his community in different capacities, most recently as a CDD 1 board supervisor for 10 years until he resigned for personal reasons in 2012. The 76-year-old, who is married and has a professional background in public service as a former fire district commissioner, fireman, and emergency medical technician in Long Island, N.Y., was the president of SRVA, the Summerfield/Riverwalk Village Homeowner Association, before becoming a district supervisor. Berns said he is ready to get back to work on the board."Now that a seat is open, my experience will serve the board well. I'm a firm believer that you don't complain unless you try to help. I can work with the current board members. I know all these people, and I know them well," Berns said.

As to the transportation and traffic concerns along Lakewood Ranch Boulevard affecting the Summerfield district, Berns said he understands and respects the fact that Manatee County is the governing authority of many of the roads in Lakewood Ranch.

Outgoing supervisor Troy, who has been advocating for the return of a green left-turn arrow at the busy intersection of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Parkside Place, said she won't quit after her term is up.

"I'll still be out there making noise," she said.

Summerfield Glades resident Fox, 47, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker who specializes in residential home sales in Lakewood Ranch, will be challenging Berns and is unfazed by his past experience on the board.

"I'm full of energy and enthusiasm, I'm committed and I won't quit. I love our community, and I want to protect our property," said Fox, who is concerned about property values and keeping vacant homes in the neighborhoods maintained.

"I plan on campaigning after Labor Day. I'm a pretty straightforward person, so I'll be knocking on doors and meeting people," Fox said.

Incumbent Alan Silverglat, CDD 5 supervisor and treasurer, whose four-year seat 3 term on the board ends this year, will be challenged by Ronald Steger, a Country Club resident since 2011 who is a newcomer to local politics. Steger, 60, retired last December as an accountant after 37 years with global audit and tax firm KPMG.

In CDD 6, which covers the Country Club West section of Lakewood Ranch, newcomers Hank Hofeler, Jim Rogoze, and Susan Ellis will run unopposed for board positions currently held by Douglas Ferry, Robert Burstein, and Richard Williams, respectively. Williams announced in April he wouldn't be returning to the board. Burstein and Ferry could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon after the qualifying period ended.

Burstein was involved in a contentious battle earlier in the year over an interlocal gate agreement between Districts 2, 5 and 6 to share the operation and maintenance costs of Balmoral and Legacy Boulevard gates. Residents said they feared a share would add to growing neighborhood traffic problems due to development.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter@MoschellaHerald.

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