Politics & Government

Holmes Beach, Bradenton, Sarasota officials honored for home rule efforts

SARASOTA -- A Holmes Beach official is one of six rewarded Tuesday for their advocacy of home rule.

The ManaSota League of Cities announced Holmes Beach Commission Vice Chairwoman Jean Peelen and five other local elected officials were selected by the Florida League of Cities to receive the Home Rule Hero Award.

The award recognizes outstanding advocacy for the protection of home rule rights for constituents and municipal citizens throughout Florida, according to the release. Home rule is the power of a city to govern itself -- for example, to enact ordinances without state approval.

According to the Florida League of Cities, home rule is the most precious power a city in Florida has.

"I'm really, really pleased," Peelen said early Tuesday evening about receiving the award. "What I'd learned over the last several years in dealing with the short-term rental issue is that we had to reach out to the state to allow us to have our home rule back to regulate rentals."

Other Home Rule Hero Award recipients:

Bradenton Councilman Patrick Roff;

State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota;

Sarasota Mayor Willie Charles Shaw;

North Port Mayor Rhonda DiFranco;

North Port Commissioner Linda Yates;

Bradenton Councilman Patrick Roff

"(Their) advocacy for municipal home rule during the 2015 Legislative Session and beyond is an inspiration and model for municipal officials statewide," said C. Scott Dudley, legislative director for The Florida League of Cities, in a written statement. "(Such) efforts are critical to the League's grassroots advocacy,"

Peelen, a fierce supporter of vacation rental regulations, said she did a lot of work in 2014 to bring attention to an issue really connected to home rule. She described home rule as a rapidly eroding power in Florida.

"It's just very discouraging," she said. "It's like having a parent saying you don't know how to take care of your own business... . We live in the cities and the state does not live in our cities but has taken it upon itself in many areas to erode home rule. To me, it's really become rather a cause."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.