Meaker, Whitmore face off on issues
Candidates for the District 6 at-large seat on the Manatee County Commission
faced each other at an Islander candidates forum last week.
Sarah Meaker is the former president of Trade Routes
Ltd., developing United States retail markets for artisans living in
Asia, Africa and Latin America, and moved to Manatee County in 2000.
a soup kitchen, school and clinic for Guatemalan street
children. She currently works for the Manatee County School District,
managing a program that certifies professionals who want a second career
as a teacher.
Meaker has a bachelor's degree in
political science and a doctorate in leadership and education. She has a 6-year-old
daughter, and attends Christ Episcopal Church.
Republican Carol Whitmore was
elected to the Holmes Beach City Commission in 1991,
and elected mayor in 1998, a position she holds today. She was a nurse
at Manatee Memorial Hospital and is currently administrator at Parkway
Plastic Surgeons, where her husband, Dr. Andre Renard, practices.
She is a graduate of Manatee High School
and Manatee Community College. Whitmore has periodically
served on the Sarasota Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, Manatee
Opportunity Council, and as a board member on the Anna Maria Island
Community Center and Solutions To Avoid Red Tide. She
is married and has a grown daughter.
"The position of a county commissioner
is to represent the entire county," Meaker said to the question of impacts
to Anna Maria Island. She stressed the need of revising the county's comprehensive
plan to improve the quality of life for all residents.
"We need to make
sure that Holmes Beach is not turned into a parking lot," Whitmore said.
She said the entrances to the Island are the entrances to the county's
top tourist locations - the
beaches - and they have to be protected.
As to the annexation of county
property by the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Meaker
important that the county manage what it has. The county turned over management
to Bradenton [with Perico Island]. I think annexation should be used as a last
resort. I want to work together with the cities and work through issues."
is usually used by developers finding they can get a better deal with a city
than with the county," Whitmore
said. "It all deals with relationships, and I hope to see annexations decrease."
a merger of the county's
myriad fire departments, Meaker said she favored looking into the matter. "In
the northern part of the county, there are only two emergency medical workers
on duty," she said.
Whitmore said "it's a waste
of money to not have emergency medical workers and firefighters together. It's
a lot more cost-effective to share. Consolidation would be more streamlined."
Meaker and Whitmore agreed that county impact fees
should be increased, although Whitmore questioned the formula used to
determine some of the increases.
As to the increases in taxes and insurance
rates in the county, Whitmore said she believed recent "market-driven" property
prices should correct themselves in the next few years. "Until the market
starts to flatten, we won't see a change in taxes."
Meaker said she
believed the county can maintain taxes at a flat level,
plus inflation, and said she favored small-business tax relief. "We need to find a way to offer
some tax relief, because people are becoming bound to their homes."
Both candidates said they favored a
And what is the most critical issue in Manatee
Whitmore said she hoped to see a greater
respect given to individuals by the county. She also
said the No. 1 issues is how the county deals with growth.
Meaker said quality of life was her No.
1 priority. High-paying jobs are important to attract
and maintain, she said, as it the need of green space and open spaces.