REDINGTON SHORES – There will be no election in Redington Shores this year. But the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within the past two years. In 2017, commissioners John Branch and Lee Holmes retired, after serving on the commission for 11 and 20 years respectively. That began the cycle of change.
This time, Mayor Bert Adams announced he is stepping down after 12 years on the commission, nine as mayor. Commissioner MaryBeth Henderson ran for the open mayor’s seat, and has been elected with no opposition. Taking Henderson’s District 3 seat will be first-time commissioner Michael Robinson. District 1 Commissioner Tom Kapper will become the longest-serving member as he starts his 10th year in March. Robinson and Kapper also ran unopposed.
Also on the commission, but not up for election this year, are District 2 Commissioner Jeff Neal, and Commissioner Pat Drumm, representing District 4. Both are in their first term.
Mayor reflects on ‘The Adams Years’
In a recent interview with the Beacon, Adams spoke of the highlights of his 12 years on the town commission.
During his nine years as mayor, Adams said the town made it through the economic downturn years and depressed housing market while maintaining a sound financial position.
Achievements while he was in office include the undergrounding of utilities in the residential neighborhoods and construction of a crosswalk at Constitution Park, adding to the safety of park visitors. Also, the sharing of maintenance equipment with North Redington Beach has enabled Redington Shores to lower expenses by splitting the costs.
Adams said the town’s successes over the past years were due to commissions past and present; the town staff headed by City Clerk Mary Palmer, who Adams termed “my right hand;” and all the town board members and volunteers. “Without them none of our progress would have been possible,” the mayor said.
Projects now underway include the undergrounding of utilities on the east side of Gulf Boulevard and elimination of the wires crossing the roadway. Construction of two new town parks will get underway soon, on land facing the La Vistana condominiums on Gulf Boulevard. The condo association is donating the property in connection with a development agreement.
Adams also said he is hopeful for the completion of an Emergency Services Complex, which would dramatically lower fire and emergency response time for all the Redingtons. It will be built on 173rd Avenue on the site of the Redington Shores town maintenance building, beside the North Redington Beach Town Hall.
As for his retirement plans, Adams said he wants to “play some golf” and devote more time to his business in Lakeland.
“I want to wish the best to the new commission,” Adams said. “I’m sure the town will be in fine hands.”
Mayor-elect sets goals, priorities
In an email to the Beacon, Henderson said she decided to run for mayor after serving two terms on the commission because “I was confident I could make a meaningful contribution to the town and believed that my constituents were ready for a fresh perspective that would represent their interests.”
Her experience, she says, includes “the considerable progress in a number of areas that are important to residents, ranging from enhancements of our town parks to significant improvements in resident communications.”
Henderson said the “overwhelming support” she has received from town residents and community leaders reinforced her decision to run for mayor.
When she becomes mayor in March, Henderson said she will continue her focus on “providing clear communication with each of our town’s residents, from the completely revamped town website to the addition of Constant Contact email notifications to residents and our town’s new social media presence.”
Henderson said she wants to continue improving the two-way communications with residents, providing them with information on key town initiatives such as utility undergrounding and beach nourishment, as well as soliciting feedback on residents’ concerns and priorities.
A renewed focus on resident safety will be another priority of Henderson’s. She said the town’s experience during and after Hurricane Irma showed areas for improvement in issues relating to storm evacuation and residents returning to town. “It is critically important that we establish clear procedures that ensure we quickly and effectively get all residents out of harm’s way,” she said.
The safety of pedestrians is also very important to Henderson. “From additional crosswalks to improved lighting in high traffic areas, I intend to work diligently to ensure that our residents continue to safely enjoy one of the best beach communities in Florida,” she said.
New commissioner Robinson had high-level career
Newly elected commissioner-to-be Michael Robinson brings an impressive background that includes decades of public service. He retired and moved to Redington Shores fulltime in 2016 after holding a number of high-level governmental assignments in various fields and locations.
That includes director of the Michigan State Police, heading a team of executives tasked with setting up the Transportation Security Administration following the Sept. 11 attacks, and directing the largest air evacuation in U.S. history following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, where he and his wife lost their home.
Robinson told the Beacon his law enforcement experience “was invaluable as I led evacuation measures through the New Orleans airport. I hope that my experience can be beneficial to the town of Redington Shores” in hurricane preparation and dealing with a possible hit.
“We can hope and pray that hurricanes pass us by, but experience tells me we also need to be prepared for the unthinkable,” he said.
Town’s progress to continue, Kapper says
District 1 Commissioner Tom Kapper thanks his constituents for electing him to a sixth term. Kapper said he wants to follow in the footsteps of Mayor Adams.
“Bert has done a great job, and I want to try to continue the good things he’s done for Redington Shores,” Kapper said.
Kapper’s responsibilities include town maintenance and the Building Department. In his new term, Kapper said he wants to get started putting new grass in the parks and median strips, and move forward with the Gulf Boulevard beautification project, which is being paid for with county money.
Kapper also said he wants to “continue with the good service the Building Department gives people.”
The contracting out of lawn maintenance to a landscaping company is “working out fine and has saved us some money,” Kapper said.