REDINGTON BEACH — Americans have avoided the risk of public events and turned to the safety of their digital devices, affecting everything from Sunday sermons to birthday parties. And for residents of Redington Beach, the coronavirus pandemic has limited their ability to hear from candidates in the March 9 town commission elections.
Stepping up to the problem, the League of Women Voters for the St. Petersburg Area offered the candidates an online forum that was prerecorded and released for broadcast Feb. 4. Three candidates participated — Commissioner Fred Steiermann, who is running for mayor; and John Miller and Shawntay Skjoldager, who are seeking commission seats.
Three candidates decided not to appear: Dave Will, a candidate for mayor; Tim Kornijtschuk, who is seeking re-election as commissioner; and Richard Cariello, a first-time candidate for commissioner.
The forum was moderated by Ken Wrede, who posed an identical series of questions to each candidate. Their abbreviated answers are below. For their complete responses, see the LWVSPA Facebook Live page or YouTube channel.
What are your views on the purpose of government?
Steiermann: “To be the go-between between our residents and all the systems that are in place to get the answer.”
Miller: “To give our people a real voice in in how our republic is run.”
Skjoldager: “To work with the people to help protect their rights and property.”
What sources of information do you use in making decisions?
Steiermann: Stated he relies on staff reports and his own online research. “Preparing and education are key. For other issues, he said, “go with your gut” and “from your heart,” he said. “Some issues are made while you are putting kids to bed.”
Miller: “A lot of different sources,” such as talking to residents, and to “surrounded ourselves with smart people.”
Skjoldager: “Make sure you are clear on the problem, then do due diligence to collect information.”
What is your position on wearing masks?
Steiermann: ”It’s just a given … It’s just silly not to.”
Miller: “One hundred percent for masks. One hundred percent for social distancing.”
Skjoldager: Said she has a “mask-wearing family” and considers wearing masks “a very small thing to do.”
What do you consider the top issues for Redington Beach?
Steiermann: Lawsuits from beachfront residents “who want to own the sand behind their house.” Maintaining access to the beach. Stormwater drainage.
Miller: Ownership of the beach, flooding, and responding to issues such as short-term rentals.
Skjoldager: Storm issues, a lack of responsiveness on permitting, and general safety concerning break-ins and speeding.
What are the town’s most important environmental issues and how would you address them?
Steiermann: Rising water levels in the Intracoastal Waterway, which can be dealt with by installing valves in pipes that allow stormwater to drain into the surrounding waters, but keep water from rising up into the pipes. Encouraging construction of dunes, because Redington Beach is not eligible for federally funded beach renourishment.
Miller: Controlling flooding through better drainage and trenching and reducing beach erosion by building dunes and planting sea oats.
Skjoldager: Reducing the effects of sea level rise by growing native plants to protect the beach and being proactive to reverse or mitigate future beach erosion.
What are the key problems for Redington Beach?
Steiermann: Communications in the permitting process between residents and town staff. We have issues in responsiveness.
Miller: Construction delays created by the building code process.
Skjoldager: Construction delays created by the building code process.
The Sierra Club has a national program for assisting towns in going to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Would you support the town’s participation in the Ready for 100 program?
Steiermann: Would like to see “how it would fit” with the town’s goals. Said he is for less regulation and believes in “working together to finds solutions that work for everyone.”
Miller: Agreed with participation. Said he sees clean energy such as solar farms as “the thing of the future” and he has a 20 to 30-year outlook in wanting to join the commission.
Skjoldager: Said she needs more information, but renewal energy is “the way of the future.” It’s “something worth exploring.”
What makes you the most qualified to be on the commission?
Steiermann: Has been on the commission for 14 yeas. Also served two years on the Board of Adjustment. He has lived in Redington Beach since 1999 and is a realtor and property developer.
Miller: He has served on the Parks Board and has coached youth sports. He said he is “proactive” and likes to “stay in front of the curve.”
Skjoldager: Noted that she is a small business owner and has served on the Parks Board and on the Redington Beach Property Owners Association; involved in several other organizations.
Steiermann: He has lived in Redington Beach since 1999, where he has raised five children. He is running for mayor because “I have the knowledge and experience to be successful at the job.”
Miller: Has lived in Redington Beach since 2002 and has three children. “It’s important for me to make a difference and important for my children to see you can make a difference.”
Skjoldager: Redington Beach is “a perfect place to bring up our daughter. I’m invested in the future of the community.”