It feels like 6 months ago …. which makes sense, because it actually was 6 months ago … that I was pestering Jim Brann trying to get him to admit to me that he was running for the Board of Supervisors.

Brann, in confidence, confirmed to me that he was running. And I respected his request to keep it silent until he formally announced it himself. Brann told the Gateway Sun he was excited about his prospects of defeating Supervisor Kathleen Flaherty in the election. When advised that Flaherty’s seat on the board was not up for election in 2018, Brann then said he was excited to beat Supervisor Doug Banks. After realizing that it may not be a great strategy to compete against Banks in what basically amounts to a sophisticated popularity contest, Brann finally settled on running against Vice-Chairman Bill Guy.

Then on the final day that individuals could file the necessary paperwork to establish their campaigns, Delores Linscott popped up on the Lee Elections website. Linscott hosted a secret meeting of 15 to 20 Gateway Greens residents whose goal was to increase their community’s influence over Gateway matters. Linscott was chosen to run on behalf of that group at the last minute, so she dutifully submitted her paperwork to Lee Elections. Linscott told the Sun that their group’s focus was to make sure Gateway Greens was taken care of first.

By then, both Guy and Banks had already established their candidacy for re-election. After years (actually decades) of wandering aimlessly the current Board of Supervisors finally had the Gateway District on a solid path. Finally, the GSCDD had a plan, had direction, and the right people in charge in the right places. Even Brann tipped his hat to his election opponents and stated that for the past 2 years the current board had provided solid leadership for the Gateway community.

So the question now put before the residents of Gateway is a simple one: Do you want to continue the positive momentum and maintain continuity of leadership, or do you want to have the Gateway District reset itself and go back to the drawing board?

Voting for Guy and Banks will mean that the five Supervisors remain in place, who along with District Manager Chris Shoemaker will continue building upon the progress they’ve already made. The staff knows what direction they’re going, so a re-election will keep the current plan in place.

Voting for Brann and Linscott will mean all the positive momentum stops as Brann and Linscott take their places on the board and begin to insert their own priorities. Brann and Linscott will need time to settle in to their roles, over-come the learning curve, and then will no doubt work to set a new direction for district staff.

The main knock against Guy has been that he is seeking a third term. Chairperson Margaret Fineberg has been a Supervisor for 9 years. Guy has been a Supervisor for almost 8 years. Banks has been on the board for about 2.5 years, while Supervisor Kathleen Flaherty and Supervisor Ed Tinkle have been there a little less than 2 years each.

There’s a solid mix of experience and “new blood” on the present board, which is perhaps why it’s working so well these days. Guy said in an email to the Sun that “Now is not the time for rookies, best practices are needed.”

With Banks, Flaherty and Tinkle all less than 3 years in to their time on the board, it doesn’t seem that bringing in fresh perspectives is really necessary at this time. It’s not as if all (or any) of the Supervisors have been there for 15 or 20 years and it’s just time to get new people involved for the sake of getting a different set of eyes to take a look at things.

The main knock against Banks through the 2018 campaign was … and this is true … that for a period of time five or ten years ago he was watering his lawn on the wrong days, not following the watering rules. The suggestion being that if Banks could not manage to water his lawn on the correct days, then how could he possibly help manage the Gateway Services District? Banks reportedly also ate four cookies when he was supposed to only have three one time when he was a kid.

Banks confirmed to the Sun that his watering system was configured improperly for a period of time when he owned a rental property in Pinecrest, but he would not or confirm or deny whether he ate the extra cookie.

In all seriousness, the only policy attack on Banks through the campaign was that Banks sees no issue with a 2005 document that has the catchy title of Adoption of Chapter VI of the rules of the Gateway Services Community Development District.

Shortly after the election we will have an entire article about Chapter VI and how Brann and Tinkle injecting it in to the 2018 for political gain has altered the political landscape in Gateway forever, so there’s no real need to get in to it here in detail. But in the opinion of this writer Chapter VI is totally fair and Banks is right that it doesn’t need to be changed.

So at this point — on election day — the challengers have brought no credible case that Guy and Banks need to be replaced.

Over the past two years, Gateway residents have also enjoyed the most competent and productive Board of Supervisors the community has ever had. The district has also accomplished more than ever in that same time period.

So why, exactly, would anyone want to disrupt all the progress?

The campaign is all but over, and neither challenger has answered that question.

One final time, if you want to keep the progress, keep the momentum, and take advantage of the continuity of leadership from the best Board of Supervisors that Gateway has ever seen, you should vote to re-elect Vice-Chairman Bill Guy in Seat 4 and Supervisor Doug Banks in Seat 5.

If you want to rip everything up, halt the progress, set a new direction for the district, then you should vote for candidates Jim Brann in Seat 4 and Delores Linscott in Seat 5. Additionally, if you live in Gateway Greens and you want the Gateway Services District to take care of Gateway Greens before any other area of Gateway, that’s another reason you should vote for Linscott.

As for endorsements, Supervisor Tinkle has endorsed Brann and Linscott.

The Gateway Soccer Association, Gateway Flag Football League and GSCDD Chairperson Margaret Fineberg have endorsed Guy and Banks.

Based on the progress made over the past 2 years, this publication feels it’s in the best interests of Gateway to keep the momentum going, and therefore the Gateway Sun is also endorsing Guy and Banks for re-election.

Polls are open from now until 7pm. Good luck to all four candidates!

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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