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An election day with no election in Venice

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Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 5:37 pm

VENICE, Fla. - There was no election of any sort in Venice Tuesday; nobody throwing their hat in the ring to challenge two city council members and the mayor.

The last five open city leader positions have been unopposed. Every year in Venice, at least two of the seven council member seats are up for grabs. For some reason, nobody is trying to unseat those already in place.

If a challenger had stepped forward, Venice mayor John Holic would have been out stumping for his position Tuesday. "It was a blessing to not have to do it again."

In fact two other city council members would have been up for re-election; instead, nobody opposed.

Holic is being optimistic. "I am hoping there was no opposition because people think we are doing a good job."

That's five open seats in a row without challengers. Perhaps things are just running smoothly. Maybe there just aren’t any hot button issues…or do people just not care?

Local political activist and often critic of Venice politicians John Patten says there is apathy. "The bulk of this town are people who have moved from other places. Their emotional, political, and social investments are still in the places that they raised their kids and sent them to school. They come down here and this is a secondary thing."

Public safety issues are out there. Venice Police are losing their dispatchers, the sheriff is taking away the holding facility, battles persist over ambulance service and pensions. Oh and if you haven't noticed, growth could soon become an issue once again.

In 2011 less than 28% of registered voters showed up to vote.

Holic believes residents are still paying attention. "That could be a position, but the city is not known for being apathetic. When there is a reason to step forward and say something people do step forward."

Holic says the council certainly still hears its share of criticism, something he says many potential candidates in the mostly retirement community might not want to deal with. "It does put you in a position you are not used to in the private sector."

Patten says he known of one former police officer who thought of running but opted out. "He did not want to throw his hat into the ring because all of the garbage that goes along with it."

Holic says he will deal with the negative, saying Venice is worth it. "I hope we are going the direction people want it to go and we leave it in better shape than it was."

It should be noted the low pay for Venice officials. For example, a Sarasota County commissioner makes nearly $80,000 a year. A school board member more than $38,000. A North Port city commissioner makes nearly $30,000. A Venice city council member makes less than $11,000.

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