Gay Darsie, one of two new Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Board members along with George Baker, didn't even make it on the ballot in her first stab at running for elective office.
Yet she won.
All suspense was drained from the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Board elections when incumbent Ginger Watkins, Baker and Darsie were unopposed after the June 8 filing deadline. Thus, the GIBA race had been decided and did not need to be listed on the lengthy Nov. 6 ballot.
Darsie's first GIBA Board meeting came nine days after the General Election and she sat down a couple days afterward to share her initial impressions of the task at hand as a new board member.
QUESTION: Why take on the volunteer GIBA Board position? It's a lot of work.
ANSWER: (Laughs). It's my philosophy that if you're given opportunities in life, and you've got some ability and some basic knowledge of the subject, you have an obligation to give back to your community.
Gay Darsie at a glance
Birthdate: April 22, 1951
Occupation: attorney, Angus beef cow producer and boards Thoroughbred horses
Residence: Boca Grande
Family: widowed twice, stepchildren
Education: juris doctorate from the University of Kentucky
Discovered Boca Grande: My late husband, Jim Glenn, went to medical school with Hank Wright
Q: What is GIBA's biggest challenge in your view?
A: I'm on a steep learning curve but everybody is hopeful the funding from the state will come through because that's a very attractive option. I think we can market bonds and issue them at pretty attractive rates. I think that window of opportunity is likely to be open for another year.
Q: Are you concerned that the GIBA Board, before your term began, rejected five Swing Bridge construction bids, including a low bid that came in more than $2 million under the estimated $20 million cost?
A: That was a decision made by the previous GIBA board and you can't go back.
Q: But the new GIBA Board now must deal with the consequences. Does it concern you and why, if so?
A: It's a concern to me. I do not fully understand why they (rejected the bids).
Q: What strengths do you bring to the board?
A: (Laughs) People probably wonder that. I'm a lawyer by training and my last seven or eight years I worked at the University of Kentucky, which issues a lot of bonds. When I was in law school I worked with the city of Lexington. The city of Lexington issues a lot of bonds. I have represented a mutual fund for bonds. I'm pretty familiar with municipal financing.
Q: Have you ever held public office before being elected to the GIBA Board?
A: I served on the Planning Commission in Versailles, Ky., but it's an appointed position. I've represented the planning commission and school board in the past.
Q: Your election night was anti-climactic because you knew on the last day of qualifying that you were unopposed. How did you feel when you knew you'd won the GIBA seat?
A: I didn't know until you called me. I was surprised (laughs). I guess I felt privileged to have the opportunity. I do know how to make motions and accept motions and move the meetings along. It needs to be done.
Q: Why does it need to be done?
A: My sense is this agency strives to keep the public informed. Sometimes efficiency in your public meeting is not the best way to keep the public informed. Board members have the advantage - I hope - of seeing the written material, which members of the audience aren't looking at. I can understand why public meetings aren't always as efficient as they could be. Private corporations, where all the board members are looking at the same documents, you can get through your motions and resolutions pretty quickly because everybody's seen it in advance and they know what's to be expected.
Q: Your life wasn't supposed to be spent in the boardroom or courtroom. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I really longed to be a large-animal veterinarian. I went to college before Title IX and getting in school for that was going to be difficult so I decided there better be something else I can do (laughs).
Q: How did you discover Boca Grande?
A: My late husband, Jim Glenn, went to medical school with Hank Wright at Duke University. You can imagine our household when UK and Duke played basketball, which didn't happen too often. I had been here myself in the mid-1990s.
Q: Didn't Duke just beat UK?
A: They did. We were without our point guard, which was a problem and could be a problem going down the road because we're pretty thin and all freshmen again. I still have my basketball season tickets.
Q: When did you make the transition from the residing in the Bluegrass State to the Sunshine State?
A: We used to stay from 2003 to 2007 for short periods at the Gasparilla Inn & Club so I didn't have to cook and clean then (laughs). I became a full-time resident in 2007 because I was still on the planning commission up north before that.
Q: Perfect world, what does the GIBA Board accomplish with your help in your first term?
A: Oh, wow. Clearly get these bridges built and get the bonds issued at a reasonable rate without increasing these tolls substantially.