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Six Island residents running for water association board seats

February 6, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

There are six residents of Pine Island running for various seats of the Greater Pine Island Water Association board of directors.

William Paul Brown is running for the Matlacha seat, Charles Nick Mohar and Paul Pelky Jr. are running for the St. James City position and Sonny Koutsoutis, Danna McDermott and Lee Michael Tango are running for the at large seat. All positions are three-year terms.

Brown said he decided to run for the Matlacha seat after a woman who works in his office suggested that he run.

"She had mentioned that there was an opening," he said. "I went ahead and threw my name into the hat."

A resident of Matlacha Isles since 1995, Brown has been a system analyst, software implementation and business process specialist for the past 21 years for Cove Systems Inc., which is a St. James City company.

Brown, who is originally from Arlington Heights, Ill., graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a bachelor of arts in business economics with accounting emphasis.

If elected, he said he will bring some real world business experience that he has gained over the past 20 years to the table. Brown said he has a business minded approach to things, as well as the skills to look at things logically.

Although he is glad to be entering into the election after the fluoride issue was resolved, Brown said he is happy that the board decided to take in input from the community and they went with the consensus of the members.

Mohar said he decided to run for the St. James City seat because he is interested in the community. He said he is currently involved in the community through the Greater Pine Island Kiwanis Club, as well as being an active volunteer for the Beacon of H.O.P.E. Students Achieving Success program.

"I like to be involved in the community and would like to see this community progress," Mohar said.

He purchased a home in 1990 and became a full-time resident of the island seven years ago. He was born in Fairbury, Ill., and graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., with a bachelors degree in business with a political science minor.

Before retiring, Mohar was a manager vice president of Kent Lumber Company for 16 years, owner of Wood Graphics for 10 years and spent six years building and selling spec homes.

If elected he said he would bring practical knowledge to the table because he was a developer for many years in Illinois.

"I would try to represent everyone in a responsible way regarding the service they receive and in a fiscally responsible manner," he said if elected. "I would be open to questions and problems and try to manage them promptly."

After making St. James City his permanent home three years ago, Paul Pelky Jr. decided to run for the Greater Pine Island Water Association board of director's election this year.

Pelky said he decided to run for the St. James City position because he wanted to give back to the community in which he lives.

"I will be their voice," he said if he wins the position.

Pelky said he will always lend an open ear for anyone who has a concern with the water association.

"I'm hard-working and very honest," he said. "A guy you can sit down and have a beer with."

In addition, Pelky said he wanted to do something that would engage his mind on an intellectual level.

He said he believes the members should have a vote on initiatives. Pelky said he was against the increase in fluoride that was voted down in December and is a member of Citizens for Safe Water.

He has been visiting Pine Island for the past 11 years on and off before permanently moving from Oswego, N.Y. Pelky earned a political science degree from SUNY Oswego and is currently working at the Waterfront as a head chef and kitchen manager for the third season.

Koutsoutis who is running for the at large seat of the water board, has been a board of director for the past four years.

She first visited Pine Island with her parents in 1977 before later calling Pine Island Village her home in 2004. Koutsoutis was born in Washington, D.C., and received her education from Villa Julie College and the University of Maryland.

Over the years she has been employed with the Social Security Administration, as well as the executive assistant of a Maryland water quality advisory committee, bookkeeper, office manager of more than 25 employees, legal secretary, engineer's administrative assistant when cellular system was developed in the Baltimore/Washington area and a manager of a small insurance company.

Due to her serving on the board since 2009, she said she understands the workings of the water department.

"I feel like I am an asset to the board," Koutsoutis said.

If elected for another three-year term, she said she will ensure that the water company continues to live up to the expectations of the members.

"The water board is an excellent running company," Koutsoutis said.

Koutsoutis is active in F.I.S.H., the American Legion and the Calusa Land Trust.

McDermott said she decided to enter the at large election for the water board after the debacles of the chemical fluoride being added to the drinking water.

"I felt like I was not being heard," she said of why she decided to run. "Any public official should have an open ear to the people they are serving. The board needs to have more open ears."

McDermott moved to Bokeelia in 2000. She earned a masters degree from Florida State University in social work administration. Over the years she has been a medical disability examiner at the Department of Health and Rehabilitation in Tallahassee, vocational and workers compensation rehabilitation counselor, social services director, medical social worker and is currently a medical social worker/vocational counselor at Coastal Behavior Inc. in Fort Myers.

She said since she is a certified pool operator she can bring some water expertise to the board.

"Being a business man would be great," McDermott said. "Knowing something about water would be very helpful."

Tango said since he is now retired he wanted to do something for the community.

He has earned an AS degree in oceanography/marine engineering from Miami Dade College, an AA degree in sociology from Broward Community College, a BS in science from Florida International University, and a MS in business administration, crisis and contingency management from Florida Atlantic University.

Tango was in government services at the local, state and federal level for 34 years.

If elected, he said he will enhance the community by listening to responses and making sure the voices of the community are heard. Tango said it is about finding out what is best for the community as a whole.

"I will listen with an open mind to all parties served," he said. "Listening is the big part of it. It is good to have a working knowledge. It is good to be open minded and not bias and reflect the opinions and desires of the contingents."

The ballots are due to the Greater Pine Island Water Association by Feb. 15 for the election of directors. The winners will be announced at the Greater Pine Island Water Association 48th annual meeting at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church at 2 p.m.



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