homepage logo

Charter Review Committee chosen

By Staff | Nov 8, 2017

The City Council formed their Charter Review Committee Tuesday morning, which will begin meeting monthly.

Mayor Kevin Ruane said they received 26 applications for the Charter Review Committee, two of which had withdrawn. He said their resolution called for seven committee members and two alternates.

There was some discussion on what role the alternates would take during the process.

City Attorney Ken Cuyler said he does not believe an alternate was contemplated to fill in just on a meeting basis if one of the committee members was absent. He said the alternate would step up if there was a vacancy.

“If someone was just absent the alternate would not be able to vote under that circumstance,” he said, adding that there would just be fewer members there, but still a quorum.

Vice Mayor Mick Denham said he saw it more like a jury selection, where they would attend all the meetings, but would not vote. He said the alternates should attend all the meetings, so they hear the discussions in case they were needed.

Cuyler agreed that the alternates would attend every meeting, participate in the discussion, but would not vote.

The City Council voted on their top seven candidates by ballot. The first vote resulted in seven people who received three, or four votes.

“I can’t thank each and every one of you enough for taking the time to put your name up. If you don’t happen to be apart of the seven please don’t become disenchanted and not try to help the city in the future,” Ruane said. “The resumes, as I’ve heard across the dais, have been really overwhelming as far as their ability in what they have done in their prior involvements. This is going to be a tough task. Please don’t take this personal if you don’t make the cut. I’m sure we can help utilize your expertise in something in the future.”

Those selected for the Charter Review Committee are Kristie Anders with three votes, Timothy Garmager with three votes, Richard Johnson with four votes, Jeff Powers with four votes, Larry Schopp with three votes, Linda Uhler with four votes and Aaron Pruss with three votes.

Councilman Jim Jennings resigned before the Nov. 7 meeting.

Each candidate was asked why they were interested in the appointment on their application.

“I have been interested in community planning since first being presented with a book Design with Nature by Ian McHarg in 1973. McHarg is one of the original planners of the Sanibel Report (1976). I have been a long time student of the Sanibel Plan (the update of the Plan published in 2007). I teach the history of conservation of the islands and the intent and content Sanibel Plan on a regular basis to professionals, new residents and visitors. I have interviewed citizens involved in the original formulation of the charter ultimately written by Aileen Lotz in 1974, in an effort to understand its evolution. Our city is now two generations beyond its original charter. I am interested in the future of this island community and the charter review. I have experience to contribute to the process by being a leader in advising amendments to the LeePlan (UC Community Panel), public safety (Fire Commissioner), environment (SCCF), tourism, real estate and business. (I am part owner in a Sanibel-based business). I want to continue my own education as to the varying perspectives of the stakeholders of the islands, the concerns for Sanibel’s future and pro-active steps that the charter review may lead to as the city moves on serving its residents,” Anders wrote.

Garmager wrote his interest was because he wanted to continue his service to the city and community he has been a resident of for 17 years. He also wanted to ensure the City Charter provides the city with an effective and efficient governance structure.

“Sanibel is a special place for so many. There are times that our goals as a community, and our goals to keep our community the natural sanctuary island that it is, are in concert from all perspectives. There are also times that they are not and need to be managed. Our guide in this lofty effort are the rules and regulations which we govern ourselves in this home rule environment. While I have only been here for a little over a decade, I have had the honor to work side-by-side many of our community leaders. Armand Ball, Ray Pavelka, Porter Goss, Sam and Francis Bailey to name just a few. I consider it an honor and my responsibility to aid in this effort to review and update our city charter,” Johnson wrote on his application.

Powers interest developed because he and his family have been a member of the Sanibel community since 1977.

“I recognize there is a fine balance between Island preservation and responsible Island progress both, lie within the City Charter . I’m proud to be considered as a candidate for the Charter review committee which will ensure the standards of our island are upheld as they were originally intended for generations to come,” he wrote.

Schopp’s interest stemmed from him believing there is something special about Sanibel, much of which is a reflection of the City Charter.

“While there is always room for improvement we must be careful not to make imprudent changes which could affect the city’s unique character. I have the education, professional background and community experience to make a significant contribution to the work of the committee,” he said.

Uhler’s interest was also a result of her and her husband making Sanibel their full-time home in 1977.

“Since that time we have been fully involved and invested in the community. The Sanibel Charter has been the foundation of our local government for over 40 years and has served the island and its citizens well. The review of the charter deserves the same thoughtful and deliberative process with which it was originally drafted. I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of that process. I would bring a historical perspective to the committee. In addition, I have worked with a large segment of the community through my volunteer work and would solicit input from others as the review progresses,” Uhler wrote.

Pruss wrote that as a “property owner, resident and attorney serving on-island clients, it is important to me personally and professionally to maintain the unique character of our island, and, at the same time, promote a robust economy for, and civic involvement of, our island’s residents and business owners.”

The two alternates are Dorothy Donaldson and Roger Triftshauser.

City Manager Judie Zimomra and Ruane are the liaisons for the committee.

Ruane said the development of the Charter Review Committee was for the potential changes that may be voted on to the charter. Those changes would be provided to the Supervisor of Elections for the March 2019 election. He said the Supervisor of Elections has asked the city to provide the verbiage by Nov. 1.

“With that in mind we have to have a first and second reading for council. If you go backwards we are into October and September. I would like a month of some flexibility, so this group has to be done by the end of July,” Ruane said. “The time frame is going to be from November to July.”