With the election still five months away, seven candidates already are vying for the three available seats on Palmetto Bay’s council.
In the mayoral race, voters will recognize a roster of familiar names — the village’s former and founding mayor, Eugene Flinn, incumbent Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, District 1 council member Patrick Fiore, and retired Florida Power & Light and Camillus House executive Peter England.
Flinn stepped down in 2010 after serving eight years when his term limit was up, but the village charter was amended in 2012 to allow council members three terms instead of two.
“I just want to continue to take the village forward from what we accomplished in the first eight years, and to continue to make Palmetto Bay a place that we’re all proud to live,” he said. “There are so many projects that need to get done.”
Among them, he said, are getting two fire stations for the village, fighting the possibility of express lanes along U.S. 1 on Palmetto Bay’s border, bringing in more grants for the village, putting more village records online, and sitting down with residents and businesses to create a 10-year plan.
As for the village’s plans to redevelop its downtown with the help of a 45-member volunteer task force, he thinks that’s a wonderful idea — but one that he already helped come up with back in 2004 when he led a village-wide charrette in 2004.
Flinn has raised $10,000 so far, in a loan to himself.
Fiore, a former manager with the Florida Department of Children and Families, has been on the dais since 2010.
“I want to continue the work that I have begun, which is to continue [our] public works [projects], solve people’s problems, get the roads paved, keep improving the parks. And be the nuts-and-bolts councilman that I’ve been, maybe lead the city in a more positive direction,” he said, adding that ongoing litigation between the village and Palmer Trinity had “managed to create some extreme divisiveness in the city.”
As for the downtown redevelopment project, he said he has some “cautious reservations about it,” including whether the economy can sustain new business in the area.
Fiore has raised a little over $2,000 so far.
England, who ran for mayor in 2010 and finished just 81 votes behind Stanczyk, said he never envisioned running again, but that taking stock of the acrimony on the council changed his mind.
“My philosophy has always been that if you see something wrong, I’m compelled to make it right,” he said. “We need to remove the tension and bitterness which have diminished the village and injured our residents and that’s why I’m running for mayor.”
England is running on a platform of public safety, transparency and fiscal responsibility. He said he’ll make getting two fire stations for the village a top priority, pursue state and federal grants, and continue his work on the downtown redevelopment task force.
Like Flinn, England wants to see the village create a village-wide plan, though he proposed looking just five years into the future.
So far, England has raised $10,550.
Stanczyk, who owns a local antique mall, has been on the dais since 2006 and mayor since 2010. She said she’s running to see old projects through, the first of which are two fire stations for the village to address inadequate response times.
Longstanding plans to put a fire station on the U.S. Department of Agriculture property on Old Cutler and 67th Avenue stalled when nearby homeowners got angry about the location.
Since then, Stanczyk said she jas worked with the Miami-Dade fire department and local residents to find three alternate sites — one of which she says the Miami-Dade department is finally announcing they’ll buy at the June 2 council meeting.
As for the southern part of the village, Stanczyk said the Palmetto Bay Village Center office park is planning to request rezoning on its property with a fire station on the site plan.
She also said she plans to keep expanding park programming and continue her work on the village education committee. She also promises to continue championing redevelopment in the village’s downtown — something she says will bring “better services, businesses, restaurants” and sense of “a complete community” to the area, but also will build the village’s tax base, and keep property taxes low.
She has so far raised $1,000, from herself.
Former Drug Enforcement Administration agent and current security consultant James Archie Shedd is the only registered candidate in District 3, although incumbent Joan Lindsay says she does intend to file soon.
Shedd has lived in the village since 2001, but only recently started attending council meetings. He is billing himself as a “fresh face” who can tackle “the dysfunction of the council.”
“I think I can do a better job of working with people that I don’t necessarily agree with. I had to do that in 33 years of government service,” he said.
For Shedd, the ongoing legal battle between the village and the Palmer Trinity School is the root of the council’s disunion, and he said he just wants to see the issue “resolved positively for both sides.”
Shedd also wants to increase police visibility in the village. Regarding the village’s plans to redevelop downtown, he said “the future is coming, and you can’t hold back progress” but that he’ll work toward “controlled changes” in Palmetto Bay’s downtown if elected.
Shedd has run for political office once before, in 2008, when he lost in Miami-Dade’s first election for property appraiser. He financed his campaign almost entirely himself, and was later found guilty by the Florida Elections Commission of violating election rules when he went into overdraft to pay for campaign expenses and failing to report his qualifying fee as a campaign expenditure.
Candidates in District 1 — the northern part of the village — have been busy for some time now. David Zisman, a barbecue store owner, has been in the race since October. Karyn Cunningham, a former teacher and government and community engagement specialist with United Teachers of Dade, has been running since November. Each has already collected nearly $25,000.
Zisman ran for mayor in 2010, but placed fourth in a four-person race. He told the Miami Herald in January that while that candidacy had been a “protest run” prompted by the council’s refusal to grant him a setback variance, this candidacy is about reducing what he considers to be a “bloated” village budget.
Cunningham ran for vice mayor in 2012, but came in third in a three-person race. She told the Herald in January she was running to bring improvements to the village in infrastructure, safety, parks, but most of all, in community engagement. Her website also says she’s committed to keeping the mileage rate down and keeping a trim budget. She’s already collected endorsements from Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, former Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick, state Rep. Dwight Bullard and former state Sen. Alex Villalobos.
Residents intending to run for council seats in District 1, District 3 or mayor must submit all documentation by noon Aug. 15 at 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, and a runoff, if necessary, will be Nov. 25.