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Jennings thanks community for years of support

By Staff | Nov 22, 2017

After Jim Jennings and his wife found a home in Fort Myers, he had to resign from the City Council, due to the charter requirements of the City of Sanibel.

The resignation came in the middle of his 14th year serving the residents of the City of Sanibel. When he was voted into office it was technically not part of his plans, he shared.

“I’ve been reluctantly around political people to help people get elected, but I didn’t want to run. I wanted to be a supporter,” Jennings said, which shifted gears when the citizens voted him into office. “It was beyond reason because I was a retired teacher than no one knew on the island. I won with little money.”

The 14 years of service resulted in no one running against him the first two elections and the community voting for him during his third election.

“I listen to them,” Jennings said of the community. “I come to meetings well prepared and help people.”

While looking back at his service he said nothing is done by one person when you are a council.

“You can’t ever go home and say I am the reason why the sky is blue,” Jennings said. “You are one of the players, the lifters.”

With that said one of the things that makes him proud is the Sanibel Recreation Center. He said as a retired school teacher he knew the people on the school board really well, due to them being personal friends of his.

“When we asked for money they helped, they put the land into the process. The school uses the facility. It is a win-win for everybody,” Jennings said.

On Monday, Dec. 4, the Sanibel Recreation Center is celebrating 10 years of Living Fit4Life with a plethora of activities scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m.

“The key in this situation was Kevin (Ruane). He worked really hard to get people lined up and educate people. Kevin was able to get people together and raise money and get the message out,” Jennings said.

Another highlight of his service was the steps the city has taken in terms of water quality.

“I was in the water issue right from the beginning. We were able to get other communities involved in it, regional. We all worked together on that. We got quite a few state representatives and legislators involved. It’s just something that if they looked at it and studied it, they would come to the conclusion that they need to fix it,” Jennings said. “We were able to get it to the governor’s desk within eight months.”

He said there are hundreds of concerns from the whole state of Florida, with water quality being among that list.

“We moved it up to a pinnacle concern in Florida,” Jennings said.

A few other highlights of his service included the Community Park and the expansion of the Sanibel School to include the middle school wing.

“It was a direction that was good for the health of the community. Before that there wasn’t a playground for the kids to go on the island that wasn’t owned by someone else,” Jennings said of the Community Park.

His resignation became official last month.

“Right now I’m going to see what God has in store for me. I appreciate the faith they had in me and the support I got from the community for the last 14 years. I would have liked to have gone more. Things change and you have to go with that and live with the variables . . . one of them was I can’t be off the island and serve the community,” Jennings said.

Although he now lives on the other side of the bridge, he said the community will still see him on the island as many as five to six times a week.

Those interested in applying for the vacant seat can do so by noon on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The application can be found at mysanibel.granicus.com/boards/w/91564252d9e8de56.

Any questions, contact pamela.smith@mysanibel .com.