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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Candidates for Dunedin City Commission Seat 3: Experience vs. 'new blood'



DUNEDIN -- The race for Dunedin City Commission Seat 3 pits a one-term incumbent who says he hasn't finished what he started against a political newcomer who says it's time to introduce some "new blood" on the dais.

Dave Carson says his history of running a business and of serving on boards for the city and local nonprofits and, for the last nearly four years, on the City Commission has given him a deep understanding of the inner workings of budgets and city policies.

"I prepared myself to be a commissioner unknowingly. And when I did run, I had all the background that allowed me to step in and do the job from Day 1," says Carson, 57, co-owner of Carson Pest Control. "There was no learning curve, and I don't think my opponent has done that type of homework."

Heather Gracy, however, says she wants to protect the city's parks, cultural facilities and other amenities she believes Carson opposes. Gracy says her experiences as a longtime resident give her a unique perspective on things other residents want from city government.

"I think I represent Dunedin citizens better than he can in that I have grandparents, parents, children sandwiched between my generation. So I can see the various levels of our community needs and support," said Gracy, a 41-year-old homemaker, mother of three and former investment firm legal analyst.

Noting that "no one is born a commissioner," Gracy said she has leadership experience "in different ways" than Carson.

"I think the problem on the commission to date is not experience. It's making good decisions. With the city's professional staff and the research and work they put in," she said, "I'd be well-equipped to make good decisions."

Both candidates have spent the last few months knocking on doors, laying out their cases for the Nov. 6 general election.

Carson's priorities include resolving flooding problems, boosting tourism with a promenade linking downtown to the waterfront, and ensuring "we stay with a strong fiscal discipline and not celebrate too much" financially.

Gracy says a desire to preserve and protect Dunedin's charm for her children and for future generations has prompted her to challenge Carson. She says he has cast a number of votes or made public statements she disagrees with.

Her campaign priorities include expanding parks, adding bike lanes to city streets and instituting fairness in city board appointments as well as in "prudent" funding for community events and private organizations.

In a letter to her supporters, Gracy said Carson thinks the city has too many parks, wants to privatize the city marina and wants to eliminate funding for the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

Carson denies he said those things or says Gracy has taken his statements out of context.

Follow this link to read more about the race for Dunedin City Commission Seat 3.

--Keyonna Summers, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:29am]


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