Patrick Drumm, left, and Jeff Neal are sworn in to the Redington Shores Town Commission, replacing longtime commissioners Lee Holmes and John Branch.
REDINGTON SHORES – There were tears and cheers at the March 15 Redington Shores Town Commission meeting, as commission members and a crowd of onlookers said goodbye to two longtime commissioners, while welcoming new faces to serve on the commission.
Commission changes are rare in Redington Shores. Commissioners Lee Holmes and John Branch, who are stepping down, have both served a number of years, Holmes for nearly 20 years and Branch for 11. The mayor has also been on the commission for 11 years, and another commissioner for eight.
When Holmes announced his decision to retire from the commission last December, he said, “We need fresh blood, people who are more up to date with new technologies and current happenings.”
Branch said, “I would love to stay on, but it’s time to leave and let some younger people in there.”
The new commission members are Pat Drumm, who ran unopposed to fill Holmes’ District 4 seat, and Jeff Neal, who easily defeated Jason Schrimsher to replace Branch in District 2. Neal got 74 percent of the vote in the race.
Commission members were visibly emotional as tributes were paid.
“Tonight is kind of like sadness, seeing two people step off, and happiness in having two people come up and join us,” said Mayor Bert Adams.
Commissioner Tom Kapper thanked Branch and Holmes “for teaching me quite a bit during my years on the commission.” “You’re going to be missed,” he said.
“You’re my family, and it’s a happy family to work with,” Branch told the commissioners and “others out there who are as regular in attending commission meetings.” He concluded by saying he tried to think of a country song that would fit this occasion and decided it would be “Mama, watch your old man cry.”
Commissioner Mary Beth Henderson choked back tears as she began her commission report.
Redington Shores has no town manager and a small staff. So commission members get work assignments from the mayor in various areas of town management. They can devote hours to those tasks, especially when problems or emergencies arise.
Adams assigned himself finance, police, fire and EMS services as his areas of responsibility.
Kapper, who had earlier been chosen as vice mayor, was given the Building Department and Code Enforcement. Henderson has Parks and Recreation and Human Resources.
Maintenance, sewers and storm water issues were assigned to Neal, while Drumm was given the Gulf Beaches Library, PSTA, and emergency management mitigation.
Neal said he appreciated other commission members offering to help him learn the job. “I intend to utilize that,” he said. Also, Neal said he wanted to thank the residents for voting him in, and promised “to do the best job I can do for them.”
Drumm, who had no opposition in the election, said he is just looking forward to getting to work on the commission.