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Candidates in New Port Richey, Port Richey, Zephyrhills cruise to victory unopposed

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's largest city will have a new mayor without an election, as retired parks director and former Deputy Mayor Bob Consalvo has taken the seat unopposed.

By noon Tuesday, Consalvo was the only person who had filed the paperwork to run for mayor. This marks the second year in a row that New Port Richey won't hold an election because there are no contested seats.

Consalvo, 69, former head of the city's Parks and Recreation Department for more than 20 years, and most recently deputy mayor for the last two years of a three-year City Council term beginning in 2007, will take office April 19. He will replace Mayor Scott McPherson, who decided not to seek re-election.

"It was a tough fight," Consalvo said with a laugh. "I was surprised nobody ran against me. I am happy with the way things turned out."

Consalvo wasn't the only one who cruised to victory Tuesday.

In Port Richey, Mayor Richard Rober, 51, and council member Bill Colombo, 54, won new terms after no one filed to run against them.

So did Zephyrhills City Council president Lance Smith, 48, and vice president Kenneth Compton, 46. But their colleague, council member Manny Funes, will face a challenge for Seat 5 from Charlie Proctor, who is making his first run for elected office.

"I own two corporations I started from scratch, both fairly successful," said Proctor, 46, who owns an auto detailing shop and a business that deals in collectible coins. "I believe I have something to offer."

Proctor called Funes "a decent man" and said the decision to run against him wasn't personal; he simply had to pick a seat. Funes, who described Proctor as a "good businessman," said he welcomes the challenge.

"I find it exciting. This is what democracy is all about," said Funes, 66. "Having an opportunity to run for election is certainly his right and my right."

In San Antonio, city Commissioners Anthony Lister and Sharon Madden decided not to run for office this year. That drew four candidates into the mix: Thomas "Geoff" Knight, Timothy J. Franke, Mark B. Anderson and Timothy Newlon. The open seats will go to the top two vote-getters in the April 12 election.

Although he won the New Port Richey mayor's job without a fight, Consalvo said he expects tough work ahead.

His top priorities include getting downtown redevelopment projects such as Main Street Landing and the Hacienda Hotel completed and implementing a new business plan for the city's prized but financially strapped aquatic center.

"I think he'll do a good job," McPherson said about Consalvo. "In his time on the council, if we disagreed, I never doubted his vote was for what he felt was in the city's best interest."

McPherson said that early on in his three-year term, he made it clear he would not seek a second term. His tenure included the controversy over his wife's arrest after an argument at a Trinity bar and grill, where deputies say McPherson threatened to use his influence as mayor to have the deputies fired.

But McPherson said he looks back on his time as mayor as one of creativity in a time of financial crisis.

"With what I came into with declining revenues, we had to be as creative as possible to keep people employed and services going," he said.

The city will save more than $6,000 by not holding an election this year, said city clerk Linda Kann. She searched the archives to see whether the city had ever gone two years in a row without an election and said it appears unprecedented. Two council members won seats unopposed last year, Kann said.

With a tight budget year ahead, Consalvo expects to hit the ground running. City Manager John Schneiger said he hopes to hold meetings with the incoming mayor before he even takes office.

"Since we know he's mayor, we won't need to wait until April to get him up to speed," Schneiger said.

Staff writer Bridget Hall Grumet contributed to this report.

Candidates in New Port Richey, Port Richey, Zephyrhills cruise to victory unopposed 02/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 8:39pm]
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