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Fant to fill Treasure Island vacancy
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TREASURE ISLAND – Julian Fant’s long list of contributions to the city of Treasure Island got a little longer on Oct. 16.

Following a short discussion, city commissioners unanimously passed a motion naming the former mayor and commissioner as an interim replacement for the late “Butch” Ellsworth on the City Commission.

Fant will represent District 2 through mid-March when a permanent successor is elected for a 1-year term in the municipal election.

Fant, who said he has no intention of seeking re-election, was one of three candidates considered. Former City Commissioner Gail Caldwell and city resident Tim Ramsberger also tossed their names into the ring but were not considered because they said they had plans to run for the seat in March.

Caldwell served a two-year term on the commission before losing to Ellsworth by 35 votes last March.

Ramsberger, an attorney and vice president/general manager of the Honda Grand Prix, has previous city experience as a member of the Charter Review Board.

“I think the two years (on the City Commission) prepared me,” said Caldwell. “During the two years as a commissioner I think I demonstrated the consensus building skills that are necessary. There were a lot of issues that came to us that we addressed. I would appreciate another opportunity to once again represent (District 2).”

“I think I have a lot to offer,” said Ramsberger. “I would like the opportunity to represent the electorate and maybe be a fresh voice on this City Commission. So I would appreciate your consideration.”

“I think if you appoint someone who has already announced publicly that they plan to run for re-election for a full term, it gives them somewhat of an advantage,” said Fant. “I have not done so. I believe my background in civic and other public endeavors in the city of Treasure Island make me uniquely qualified to fill out the remaining term of Commissioner Ellsworth.”

Mayor Bob Minning agreed.

“I think it would be beneficial to have someone who is not seeking re-election to level the playing field and have that person on board for the next six or seven meetings,” said Minning. “My recommendation would be to vote for Mr. Fant.”

Commissioner Phil Collins agreed as well.

“We have three truly qualified people,” said Collins. “I think the idea that it has to be on a level playing field is certainly a good one. And since Mayor Fant has said he will not run, I would like to see Mayor Fant run out the remainder of Commissioner Ellsworth’s term because that certainly levels the playing field.”

Former city commissioner Ed Gayton said he backed Fant as well.

“I don’t think anyone would argue that Julian Fant is the most qualified as a former commissioner and mayor for all those years,” Gayton said. “I would like you to consider Julian and hopefully the other two candidates will run. That way anyone else who decides to run will not be at a disadvantage.”

Fant was later sworn in by City Attorney Maura Kiefer and participated in a city workshop that followed.

In other action, the commission:

• Tabled an ordinance that would amend the city’s lighting standards. City staff is currently rewriting the ordinance because the current version does not resolve deficiencies. The revised version is expected to go in front of the commission for a vote on Nov. 6.

• Passed an ordinance on first reading that will allow voters to decide whether or not to allow the maximum height of new buildings an additional 2 feet. If it passes on second reading, the measure will appear on the March 13 ballot.

• Passed a resolution allowing Bruce Denson, president of Paddle Addict Inc., to host a standup paddleboard race May 18-19 on the beach behind the Bilmar Beach Resort. All proceeds from the event would help to fund Paddle Addict’s efforts to assist people that are recovering from addictions.

• Passed a resolution that allows the Sunset Beach Civic Association to have a bonfire on Sunset Beach in conjunction with a fundraiser next to the Mansions by the Sea the evening of Friday, Dec. 7.

• Passed a resolution awarding a $3.465 million contract to Johnson Brothers/A2B Engineering for the design/build of the Palms and Capri bridges. Work is expected to start in December.

• Passed a resolution awarding a $9,600 contract to Biltmore Construction Co. for investigative services to determine the scope of repairs necessary to the Community Center. Biltmore will report to the city its findings with a guaranteed maximum price for the project.

• Passed a resolution to spend $11,445 for a Lennox 10-ton air conditioning unit for the city hall auditorium. The current rooftop unit was installed in July 1996 and is now failing. Six pounds of Freon was added recently to keep the unit from freezing up and one of the compressors was discovered to be leaking oil.

• Approved spending $57,321 for two 2013 Ford Police Interceptor utility vehicles.

• Approved spending $16,472 for Incode V.X inventory and work orders software.

• Tabled a proposed appointment to the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.
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