It seems Supervisor Ed Tinkle isn’t going to back down in the middle of a fight. Just as he promised, Tinkle has officially filed his paperwork with Lee Elections to run for a second term in Seat 3 on the Gateway District’s Board of Supervisors.
That wasn’t the original plan. Approximately 2 years ago Tinkle said he would not run for re-election, but in recent weeks as the rest of the Supervisors appeared unwilling to finally address the district’s controversial and outdated assessment methodology, Tinkle changed his mind and decided to run.
Yes, the assessment methodology is that important to Tinkle – and it’s by far the most important topic the Supervisors have had to deal with since the Lake Bank Restoration Project.
With Tinkle now entering the fray, that means all three seats on the Gateway board that are up for election in November 2020 will have the incumbents in the race. The other two are Chairperson Margaret Fineberg in Seat 1 and Supervisor Kathleen Flaherty in Seat 2.
So far, only one challenger has emerged: Flavia Walsh for Seat 1. But the Gateway Sun has learned that Pelican Preserve resident Bob Geppert will be running as well. Geppert is expected to run for Seat 2 against Flaherty, as battling Tinkle – the person with the highest level of name recognition in the race – would be a far greater challenge.
During Tinkle’s first term, he’s had the unique ability to both be a lightning rod for fierce criticism while at other times earning the highest levels of praise possible for his work with the district.
Tinkle’s low point as a Supervisor came during the 2018 election when he openly campaigned to have Vice-Chairman Bill Guy and Supervisor Doug Banks lose their respective re-election bids. Guy had run-ins with Tinkle even before the previous election but Guy has been especially hard on Tinkle ever since (sometimes justified, sometimes not). Banks was noticeably stunned when he learned Tinkle was backing Banks’ election challenger in 2018, but Banks doesn’t seem bothered by it at all any more as far as I can tell.
As for high points of Tinkle’s tenure? There have been many. In fact even prior to being elected to the Board of Supervisors in November 2016, Tinkle used his civil engineering experience to provide incalculable benefit to the residents of Gateway. If I had to pick one highlight though, it would be his work the Lake Bank Restoration Project. I may not agree with the aesthetics improvements involved, but Tinkle has been able to keep the Board of Supervisors, district staff and the district’s engineering firm Tetra Tech all pulling in the same direction on that very complex project. Even if Tinkle successfully overcomes the objections of the other four Supervisors and gets the assessment methodology done, I think Tinkle’s work with the water management system over-all and especially the Lake Bank Restoration Project will be his largest accomplishment as a Supervisor. But then again, with a potential four more years on the board, who knows. The reality is that Tinkle is paid the Florida maximum of $400 per month for being a Supervisor, but he provides the district the services of (essentially) an additional full time engineer.
It will be interesting to see if someone steps up to challenge Tinkle, assuming Geppert and the Pelican election machine take the path of least resistance and run against Flaherty. The reality is that Tinkle may run unopposed. Whether Tinkle has an opponent of his own to worry about or not, I believe Tinkle will be active in the campaign. I believe we’ll see a repeat scenario where Tinkle supports the election challengers, especially Geppert in particular, but probably Walsh as well (Tinkle and Fineberg don’t seem to be too fond of each other). Not that I believe he should campaign against the other incumbents, but I think there’s a decent chance he will again.
Anyone who watches Gateway District meetings would attest two things: First, Tinkle and Geppert have a mutual level of respect for each other (another reason I find it hard to envision them running against each other while Flaherty goes unopposed). Second, for those who are unaware, both Walsh and Geppert are extremely active residents when it comes to the Gateway District’s affairs. It’s not like either of them are coming out of nowhere to save the day. They both put in the time and attend the meetings.
This publication isn’t aware of anyone else interested in running in 2020. Nobody has come to me in secret and floated the idea asking for a promise of silence on my end. There legitimately may only be Fineberg, Tinkle, Flaherty, Walsh and Geppert interested in the 3 available seats.
So if I had to predict the next Gateway board here in June, it would be Guy, Banks, Tinkle, Walsh and Geppert.
We’ll see what happens!