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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Allbritton poised to run against Jonson for Clearwater City Council

CLEARWATER---The election is more than eight months away, but two open seats on the Clearwater City council are drawing strong interest.

Incumbent Bill Jonson has been a fixture on the Clearwater City Council for more than a decade.

Next year, he will have a challenger in David Allbritton ,who told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that he will run against Johnson for Seat 4.

“I have vision for the city,” said Allbritton, a 62-year-old contractor. “We need to make it more business friendly.”

Candidates can’t formally announce until September, but Allbritton said he thought he faced an uphill battle against Jonson, first elected to the council in 2001.

Jonson served two terms ending in 2007. He was elected to a new term in 2010 and is seeking his second consecutive term. 

Jonson, 69,  said he’s ready for the race. He bested four opponents in 2001 and three in 2010.

 “I’m very happy to stand on my record. I’ve worked hard for the citizens. It’s been tough. The last few years have been financially challenging for the city. You have to make tough choices that you’d rather not make.”

He pointed to the city’s pension reform, building a trail along the Courtney Campbell Causeway and prodding Duke Energy to properly maintain the city’s streetlights as signature accomplishments that he participated in as a city council member.

Allbritton’s platform includes simplifying the city’s code and development process to allow neighborhoods more flexibility through “zoning character districts”, and improving bus transportation (especially a direct line from Tampa International Airport).

Currently, the chairman of Clearwater’s Downtown Development Board, Allbritton said he wants to continue revamping downtown, calling it an “engine” of economic growth.

Allbritton, who lives in Island Estates, is married with three grown children.

A seat currently held by term-limited Vice-Mayor Paul Gibson is being eyed by former council member Hoyt Hamilton, whose family owns Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach

Hamilton, 54, served on the council between 1999 and 2006. He moved to Atlanta for four years while his sons attended Georgia Tech, but returned 2 ½ years ago.

“I’m in the final phases,” said Hamilton of his decision-making process about whether to run for Seat 5.

He said it was a “pretty high percentage” chance that he will formally announce his candidacy in September.

Hamilton is married and lives in Coachman Ridge.

The Clearwater City Council is elected through at-large, citywide districts. They serve four year terms and can serve two terms consecutively before they must step down.

 Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. 

[Last modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 4:33pm]

    

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