Saturday, May 26, 2018
News Roundup

Dunedin mayor's entry into county race spawns rush of potential successors

DUNEDIN — Mayor Dave Eggers announced Monday that he will run for the District 4 Pinellas County Commission seat being vacated by Susan Latvala.

Within hours, two current city commissioners said they were considering running to replace him, leading to the possibility that four of the five City Commission seats could turn over in the November city election.

Now in his fourth term as a Dunedin official, Eggers served as a city commissioner from 2003 to 2009, when he was elected mayor. In 2012 he fought off a challenge from former Mayor Bob Hackworth to retain the post.

Eggers, 56, said he had been contemplating a run for county office for six months, but began thinking about it more seriously over the last month.

"There are so many exciting new things coming up in the county and I really feel I'd like to take that step and get a seat at the table and be part of the solution as we work closely with the residents to try to map out the future," Eggers said.

Though his only elective office has been in Dunedin, Eggers noted that he has served on the countywide Metropolitan Planning Organization and has the experience to "contribute immediately."

Eggers, a Republican, is the 10th candidate to announce for the District 4 seat, which has been held by Latvala since 2000.

Her decision to retire created a rare open seat on the commission, drawing a flock of hopefuls. Including Eggers, the race now has seven Republican candidates: former Commissioner Neil Brickfield, Scott Fisher, Johnny Johnson, Timothy Keffalas, Wanda Kimsey and Macho Liberti.

Two Democrats — Jack Mc­Adoo and Mark Weinkrantz — have announced for the seat, as well as Marcus Harrison, who is running with no party affiliation.

Win or lose, Eggers' run for the county seat means he will resign from the Dunedin City Commission come November.

Candidates lining up to succeed him include four-term City Commissioner Julie Scales, who announced Monday that she will give up her seat to run for mayor. She was automatically re-elected in 2012 when no one filed to run against her.

"It is important to have a mayor who understands Dunedin's roots and what our citizens want: quality of life and preservation of our character as a quaint coastal community," Scales said in an emailed statement.

Hackworth, who unsuccessfully challenged Eggers for mayor two years ago and had been considered a potential County Commission candidate, said he is "much more interested" in Dunedin and will give a mayoral run "serious consideration."

"I think I made it pretty clear two years ago that I want to be mayor. And I feel it was a close enough election — almost 50 percent of the electorate — that I owe at least some obligation to think about it," he said.

City Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said Monday that she also is considering running for mayor, but hasn't decided yet: "I'm definitely weighing all the options."

Six-year veteran City Commissioner Ron Barnette, who holds Seat 2, announced last week that he would not seek re-election, so that seat also will be on the ballot.

As of the close of business Monday, the Dunedin City Clerk's office said former Dunedin Commissioners Deborah Kynes and David Carson, as well as Bruce Livingston, a retired businessman who has served on Dunedin's code enforcement board and the Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizens Advisory Committee, had all picked up election packets.

It was unclear which commission seats, if any, they might seek.

Times staff writer Anna M. Phillips contributed to this report. Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153.

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