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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cretekos says he'll run again for mayor, spars with crowd

CLEARWATER ----Mayor George Cretekos announced reelection plans Monday evening, just more than a year into his inaugural term.

 It didn’t involve a press conference, bunting or campaign flyers. 

Just a shouted question from an exasperated resident.

The query came at the end of a contentious neighborhood meeting about the proposed new aquarium for downtown Clearwater .

 “Are going for election again?” a woman asked.

 “Yes, I am,” Cretekos responded.

“Well we’re going to vote, we just want to you to know that,” the woman replied. “I hope you’ll be nicer to us next time.”

 “The one thing you know about me is that I’m honest with you,” Cretekos told the crowd of several dozen people.

 He was also blunt. At times during his hour-long Q &A with the Clearwater Neighborhood Coalition, he cut people off who broke his one-question rule and arbitrarily decided to stop answering questions about the aquarium so that other residents could ask about other subjects.

 He also lectured about civic duty, saying it was “embarrassing” that so few Clearwater residents took the time to vote.

 Most of the crowd was condo owners who live nearby the proposed $160 million project. They wanted answers on traffic, the city’s possible financial liability and other concerns.

 Cretekos said the city doesn’t know many of the details, but voters need to make the call in the November 5 referendum.

 That didn’t satisfy many attendees, who said the mayor wasn’t showing leadership on the controversial project.

 He responded by telling the downtown residents that they needed to become more involved in issues that didn’t directly affect them, starting with attending the neighborhood coalition’s monthly meetings.

 “I want you to be involved in this organization and involved in our community as much as you’re involved in your condo association. Because that’s what makes a city,” Cretekos said.

 Cretekos did allow that his style might raise some hackles.

 “I realize that I may have been a little harsh,” Cretekos said to a mix of laughter and grumbles.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 11:59am]


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