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City of Venice Council Seat 4

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    Jim Boldt

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    Jen Lewis

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    Chris Simmons

Biographical Information

Describe your background and qualifications for this position.

What are the 2 most important issues the Venice City Council needs to address and how would you address these issues?

What is your position on the amount of development occurring in Venice? What policies do you propose to support your position?

Should Venice impose restrictions on the use of fertilizers that have been shown to contribute to environmental issues such as red tide?

Given that Florida is one of the 12 states that has not adopted Medicaid expansion, leaving 425,000 Floridians caught in the coverage gap, would you support municipal or county health coverage programs similar to those in Hillsborough (Hillsborough Health Care) and Polk Counties (Polk HealthCare Plan)?

Campaign Phone (678) 429-5210
Facebook Page http://@boldtforbalance
I spent most of my adult life in business, owning and operating 5 successful businesses and creating countless jobs along the way. I’ll use my business background and common-sense approach to plan for, and respond to, the issues facing our City.
Anyone who has spent time in Venice over the past three years (let alone three decades) can tell you that our city is growing. Most of our city’s residents came by way of another town or state. I think Venice should continue to be a welcoming community that people dream of moving to. But growth that outpaces infrastructure can quickly turn those dreams into nightmares. I support smart growth and will diligently monitor and update the 2017 Infrastructure Plan to ensure that all Venice Residents have safe water, roadways and adequate sewer systems. Additionally, we’re seeing how Red Tide can have continued negative impacts on our local economy. I support the work being done at the U of Florida and Mote Marine, and look forward to working with our County, State and Federal partners to find a solution to these harmful algal blooms. I will also make sure the City holds up its responsibilities to ensure clean, safe and beautiful beaches.
As stated above growth is going to occur. We live in the most desirable zip code in southwest Florida, people will find a way to move here. The council needs to enforce the existing city development plan which relies on density concentration studies. We must look closely at any new developments and see to it that they comply with existing requirements.
Scientists at UF/IFAS have researched and developed best management practices and recommendations for Florida Friendly Landscaping that include policies on fertilization and how to minimize over spraying and runoff. I support science-backed solutions to the environmental challenges Venice faces.

While I admire the compassion behind this question, I do not support the City’s involvement in municipal health coverage. The challenges facing healthcare are innumerable, and I don’t think adding another layer of government involvement will lead to better treatment or more affordability.
I have 35 + years in media sales and PR with CBS radio and Clear Channel. Skills developed are mediation, incorporation of client needs, formal presentations to potential Businesses, material development and planning. In addition, I'm currently a realtor which adds to my tool kit. I focus primarily on the Island of Venice. This gives me a huge advantage to keep my finger on the pulse of local sales and development. Because I lived on and off the island since 1992, I have maintained a special relationship with the merchants and some long time area residents. This gives me direct access to their concerns about the infrastucture/development and economy. There is no doubt we are dealing with an unprecedented pandemic causing all kinds of havoc on health concerns and loss of revenue for area merchants. I seek to become part of solutions. I will work diligently to convey decisions to residents that are decided by the Council. I will listen to constituents.
RED TIDE: There needs to be an all-out effort by Council & the City to educate the public. We need forums to create participation from residents. It is our City; it is our problems. Simply because it has always been here, is no reason to accept it will always be here. Surely we can make a difference if fertilizers and other chemicals aren’t polluting the Gulf! My hope is to look at what “we” can do to alleviate Red Tide. I want to examine ouside contributors to Red Tide, i.e. "Piney Point" and it's huge discharges resulting in algae bloom! INFRASTRUCTURE: I’m not sure the residents of Venice are fully aware of the complexity of this issue. There is a potential for building heights to be extended in our town. Some owners may add another floor to an existing storefront. Others may destroy the site and put up a structure not consistent with the current downtown buildings. My message to Venice Residents is to keep your eye on this issue.
I am saddened as I look at current building on and off the Island. One tear-down recently was the little store on Venice beach which is now going to be condo's. That little beach store had been around since I've been on the Island servicing last minute supplies to beach goers and area residents. Why are we removing vintage healthy trees? How is it that old cracker homes on postage stamp lots are replaced by Cookie Cutter McMansions? There are so many “Public Hearing” notices in the newspaper, one can hardly keep up. The decision-makers may need more time to render responses. Perhaps the pace needs to slow.
An emphatic “yes”. Restrictions alone will not end it. More information given to residents is key in moving forward with trying to solve this problem. Perhaps people don't understand that using just a little bit of weed killer on their lawns can be a collective disaster to the Gulf/intercoastal. Let's keep it simple with a "we can do it together" participation on all levels! Can we identify & assist homeowners to address the run-off of antiquated septic systems which contain harsh chemicals.
I'm not certain this is a City Council issue and I don't proclaim to have all the answers. I am aware of many non-profits who offer help. Whether that is enough will require some investigation on my part.
I’ve devoted my life to public service, spending 28 years in the Army/Army Reserve, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. I also served 15 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s counterpart to the CIA. I saw combat in Grenada, Iraq & Afghanistan and twice served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia & Croatia. The military honored my accomplishments with 69 awards, including the Bronze Star Medal.

I was twice elected to the Loudoun [County, VA] Soil & Water Conservation District, serving as Vice Chairman & Treasurer. This led to appointment to the Executive Board of the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts, finishing as its President. I am now the Team Leader for Venice Naturally, part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat Program. I also serve on the County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee. These experiences taught me the key role vision, leadership, trust and team building play in making a difference.
Our most pressing needs are ending uncontrolled growth and protecting our environment. Like most residents, I am unhappy with the unrestrained development afflicting our city. A century ago, town planner John Nolan gave us a blueprint for “Smart Growth” which we still enjoy in downtown Venice. We must return to this sustainable plan and resume the “best use” and “mixed use” style of development. This will enhance our quality of life, our local economy and the environment.

We need to protect our imperiled environment. We can begin by phasing out septic tanks. We also need the regulation on storm water management ponds fixed. Projected to filter out 80% of pollutants, they only work at half their anticipated effectiveness. This means contaminants are always poisoning our wildlife and polluting of beautiful Gulf waters. The latter will require lobbying and cooperation from our state legislature, but it is needed to protect our health, environment, community and economy.
Venice has become two different cities: John Nolan’s award-winning jewel and the soulless suburbia surrounding it. We need to replace the current profit-oriented city development plan with a people-oriented design.

We can start this transition by banning developers, builders, realtors and their lobbyists/attorneys from serving on our Venice Planning Commission. We then proceed with creating a new city vision. This new strategy would call for walkable communities, mixed-use (live-work aspects), housing for diverse income levels, a compact design (saving resources and reducing infrastructure costs) ample green space with native species, all of which would be oriented towards its center. These changes would spread a sense of community, reduce road traffic and the walkability results in higher home values.

I would also consider using annexation to protect Venice from poor decisions made by the County Planning Commission and to allow opportunities for sustainable growth.
Yes, the rainy season ban on nitrogen & phosphorus-based fertilizers needs to be extended or ideally, made year round. Research proves Red Tide now occurs more frequently, lasts longer and is more intense than before. A significant food source fueling Red Tide is nutrient pollution from fertilizer that washes into our waters. This problem is compounded when the nutrient-rich water creates low-oxygen “dead zones” which harms marine life.

Several states have already banned fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus. For the Mid-Atlantic states, this resulted in a significant and rapid decrease in the size and severity of algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay. The evidence is irrefutable: it worked there, it can and will work here. Furthermore, Florida’s soil is already naturally rich in phosphate deposited by primeval seas eons ago. So in South Florida, phosphate fertilizer wastes money and harms lawns and the rest of the environment.
Venice’s median income exceeds $60,000, slightly above the level for Florida residents statewide. However, the poverty level in our fair city is 7.8 percent. While this is far below Hillsborough and Polk Counties at 13.5% and 13.2% respectively, it’s still too high [Source:]. Additionally, the Census Bureau reports 12.7% of our residents under age 65 have no health insurance.

Health care is not one of my areas of expertise. However, the data suggests many Venice residents are falling through the cracks of our health care system. That said, we cannot begin to correct a problem until we know its extent and severity. I think public hearings would be the best way to hear from those impacted and solicit potential solutions from the leadership of the Hillsborough & Polk programs as well as other experts. Then would we be in a position to make an informed decision.