REDINGTON SHORES – With redistricting a couple of years ago, the makeup of District 3 significantly changed.
Commissioner Casey Wojcik represented the district since 2006. But residents of the much changed district went big for change in their commission representative on Election Day, giving newcomer MaryBeth Henderson a sizable victory over Wojcik, who was seeking a third term in office.
Voters gave Henderson a landslide win. She took nearly two-thirds of the vote, gaining 64 percent (140 votes) versus Wojcik’s 36 percent (79 votes).
Henderson had given Wojcik his first challenge ever, promising “fresh blood, new ideas and a new vision.” Her platform included maintaining and enhancing the town’s parks and green spaces and beaches, undergrounding of utilities on Gulf Boulevard, and “listening to residents’ concerns and effectively working for positive change.”
Henderson said District 3 residents represented by Wojcik felt disconnected with town government. “They didn’t even know who their commissioner was,” she said. Henderson had promised, if elected, to set up a communications program to keep the residents informed and involved with town affairs.
During the campaign, Henderson stressed she would “do what the residents want, not what I want.” The message worked well, playing against Wojcik’s reputation for challenging dominant opinions on issues, his position on skateboarding being a standout example.
Wojcik’s support for a skateboard park in District 3, preceded by his opposition to a skate ban in the town’s
CTF (Commercial Tourist Facility) district, where most District 3 residents live, proved to be unpopular positions.
On Henderson’s prodding, a large group of residents showed up at a commission meeting to oppose the skateboard park idea, which the commission rejected in a 4-1 vote. Wojcik was the only vote in favor.
Henderson said following the election that she was awed and humbled by her victory and its size. “I’m so excited, I’m thrilled beyond words. It was a very exciting night,” she said. Henderson said she was “truly overwhelmed by the level of support I received by all segments of the community,” from single family homeowners to the condo residents.
She said the motivating force in her win was, “Everybody was ready for a change.”
“They were excited to get new blood on the commission, something different, someone with a new perspective,” Henderson said.
Henderson said she expects a smooth transition as she joins the commission, replacing Wojcik, who had been a commissioner for the past eight years. She said the commission and city staff members “have welcomed me with open arms,” and the support she received in achieving her landslide win “gives me the confidence to sit up there and work to get things done for the community.”
Henderson thanked Wojcik for his service on the commission and the accomplishments he had, saying her victory was “somewhat bittersweet” because he would no longer be a part of the commission.
Wojcik in a later interview congratulated Henderson on her victory and wished her “the very best in your new position.” Wojcik said he looked forward to seeing continued improvements in matters of importance to the residents of Redington Shores.
Reflecting on his years as commissioner, Wojcik said he had thoroughly enjoyed getting to know his constituents and learning about the district and its issues.
He said, “I have been impressed with the residents’ well thought out views on various topics, and I presented those ideas at the commission meetings.”
Wojcik said his guiding principle in making decisions was trying to do what’s right.
He thanked the residents for allowing him to serve as their commissioner for the past eight years.