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Palmetto Bay

With election 10 months away, two candidates enter Palmetto Bay council race

 

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Palmetto Bay, which held its most recent election in the end of 2012, is once again gearing up for a campaign season.

In the fall, village residents will head back to the polls. This time, three seats will be on the ballot: the mayoral seat, council seat one and council seat three.

Only two people have officially filed to run.

David Zisman and Karyn Cunningham are both running for seat one, which represents the northern part of the village.

Zisman, owner of a barbecue grill store, said he is running because he wants to institute changes of the village’s budget and zoning code.

Palmetto Bay’s budget is “bloated,” Zisman told the Miami Herald, as more staff has been hired unnecessarily and money has been pumped into projects that are not needed.

“There’s probably $1 (million) to $2 million that has been wasted on hiring people who we don’t need and who don’t do anything for us,” he said.

Zisman added that he is not against spending money for needed projects such as the recently launched plans by the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force. The task force is a 40-member volunteer residents’ committee that has drawn plans for the revitalization of a village area located in the southwestern section of Palmetto Bay. Zisman serves as chairman of the Planning and Architecture Committee of the task force.

In 2010, Zisman ran for the mayor’s seat but lost. He said he did not expect to win but that his campaign was a “protest run,” prompted after the then council voted against granting him a setback variance.

At the time he launched his campaign late in the race, which cost him votes, he said.

“So this year, I started early. And I have a lot more political friends,” he said.

His only official opponent so far for the seat is Karyn Cunningham.

Cunningham said she is running on a platform for the overall improvement of the village, including infrastructure, parks and safety.

“I am hoping to bring a little more inclusiveness. I still see a need for direction and leadership,” said Cunningham, a government and community engagement specialist with United Teachers of Dade and a former teacher.

She also hopes to prompt more resident engagement in the local government. This initiative was also part of her platform when she ran for the vice mayoral seat in 2012. Cunningham placed third in the three-way race.

Incumbents have not filed official documentation yet.

But Mayor Shelley Stanczyk told the Herald that she will run for re-election come November, mainly because she wants to finish projects that the council has been working on. That includes the initiative to open two fire stations in the village, she said.

Stanczyk has supported the downtown task force and its initiative to revitalize part of Palmetto Bay.

“We have a lot left on our plate to do as a young city, and I want to be part of that,” she said.

Councilman Patrick Fiore now represents seat one, the district Zisman and Cunningham hope to represent.

Fiore told the Herald that he is “seriously considering” a bid for the mayor’s seat, but he did not wish to commit yet.

He was elected to his council seat in 2010.

Councilwoman Joan Lindsay represents seat three, the village’s southern district. Lindsay was elected in 2010 and has the right to one more term for her seat. She could not be reached for comment.

Palmetto Bay has a council-manager form of government, which means that the council acts as the legislative body of the village, and votes in policies and laws. The village manager is the chief administrator and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the village executed in accordance with the council’s direction.

The council hires and fires the village manager, as well as the village attorney and village clerk.

Each council member, including the vice mayor and the mayor, has one vote when sitting on the dais. Elected officials have the right to two four-year terms for a specific council seat.

Residents who want to run for one of the open seats in the 2014 election can submit the needed documents by noon Aug. 15 with the Village Clerk’s Office, 9705 E Hibiscus St. For more information, visit www.palmettobay-fl.gov/content/election-2014. The election will be held Nov. 4 with a possible runoff Nov. 25.

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