By GREG GILES
Venice Mayor John Holic filed paperwork this week to seek a seat on the Board of County Commissioners for Sarasota County.
Holic, who will term limit out as a three-time mayor (nine years) in November, will seek the District 5 seat currently held by Charles Hines, who will term limit out after two terms (eight years) in November 2020.
Holic said the early announcement will give him plenty of time to go on a bucket-list trip to the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race in Alaska with his wife, Pam, in March 2020, before he begins preparing for the campaign season.
“I didn’t want to run for another office while actively serving as mayor in Venice,” Holic said.
Why run? Holic said that after his experience on City Council, it was obvious there is a need for improved communication between municipalities and the County Commission.
“It’s the same rationale I had originally for running for mayor of Venice,” he said. “I thought I could have more success bringing about needed change by being on the inside, rather than from the outside. We’ve had difficulty communicating with the Commission. I’ve always said the solution is to step up and (pursue) change from the inside.”
Holic was in Sarasota on Thursday representing Venice at a Council of Governments meeting. He traveled from there to the county Supervisor of Elections office to submit the paperwork required to open a campaign bank account.
One of the first issues he wants to tackle is water quality.
“The city of Venice is light years ahead of the county in handling water quality issues,” Holic said. “We just spent six to seven years replacing infrastructure, and for years we’ve had a reverse-osmosis water plant.
“The county still has a lot of septic tanks. Even though the state has preempted us from passing laws requiring septic tank inspections, the city came up with its own voluntary inspection program. Perhaps the county can consider its own voluntary septic tank conversion program. That’s a great place to start.”
He’d also like to renew discussions about establishing Community Redevelopment Agencies for specific renewal projects, like the Seaboard area in Venice. The Commission, which can authorize CRAs and appoint boards to run them, stopped doing so after accusations surfaced alleging financial mismanagement.
“They did a great job on previous ones they’ve done in the past,” Holic said. “We have Seaboard, which both the city and county have an interest in. We should be working to redevelop that area. I’m sure the city of North Port probably as some areas that could use it, as well.”
In the past Holic has vented his frustration with county officials who weren’t forthcoming with requested information, especially as it related to taking over ambulance service from the county, which the city is now in the process of doing. He was eventually asked to submit his information-gathering requests through a formal public records request process.
“It’s all about communicating,” Holic said. “The city and county have lots of great ideas. I want to listen to those ideas and, if it makes sense, move forward with them. We live in a great area. Let’s make it even better.”
Holic and his wife moved to Venice in 1990, where he continued his 28-year career with A.G. Edwards financial services as a certified financial planner and branch manager, according to his city profile. He was first elected as mayor in 2010.