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Five vie for two seats on board in Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND — Two commission seats up for election March 13 have attracted five candidates, including two incumbents.

District 2 Commissioner Gail Caldwell is finishing her first term, while District 4 Commissioner Alan Bildz is seeking his fifth term.

Bildz, who fought over the past two years for the imposition of a partial alcohol ban to discourage rowdy beachgoers from crowding Sunset Beach, says he now wants the legal fights over alcohol to end.

Bildz says he should be returned to office because he could be eligible to become president of the Suncoast League of Cities in the next two years and if defeated would be forced to give up his seat on the Gulf Beaches Library board.

"This is the wrong time to put greenies in with falling property values," Bildz said.

Bildz is opposed by two political newcomers — Frederick "Fred" G. Kelsey and Bob Weber — who argue taxes should be lower and residents should be given a chance to vote on the Sunset Beach alcohol ban.

"I prefer to be able to have a cocktail whenever I want. It is a freedom issue," said Weber, who has received contributions and support from Sunset Beach businesses, including Caddy's restaurant and bar.

Kelsey sees the alcohol ban as both a legal issue and a problem that has more effective solutions. He also says his accounting and business background will help him help the city solve service and infrastructure issues.

Caldwell, who was unopposed in 2010 for the District 2 seat, now faces a former commissioner, Butch Ellsworth, who says he has put his "baggage" behind him.

"I want to finish the projects we've started," said Caldwell, who prides herself on her ability to work toward compromise among commission members.

At the top of her list are the replacement bridges to the Isle of Palms and Isle of Capri, the expanded and refurbished beach trail, downtown redevelopment and improved maintenance of city buildings.

Ellsworth freely acknowledges paying a $5,000 state fine in 2006 for violating ethics rules when he was a commissioner.

"That's all over with. I paid the price for it," Ellsworth said, stressing that the city has done "little" since he left the commission.

His top issues include moving City Hall, public works and the fire department to free up the waterfront for better uses, and securing money from Pinellas County to put utilities underground along Gulf Boulevard.

The job

City commissioners serve two-year terms and make $5,400 annually. They are elected by voters in their districts.

The candidates

District 2

Gail Caldwell, 67, moved to Treasure Island in 1995, retiring from a 20-year management career in operations and training with Federal Express. She is a native of Kansas City and attended college there. She has been a longtime Red Cross volunteer, answering late-night fire calls to help families in distress, as well as serving as a volunteer team leader for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Damage Assessment. Caldwell was first elected to the commission two years ago and is seeing re-election. She is single.

Butch Ellsworth, 65, moved to Treasure Island in 1954 and has lived in the same home on Isle of Palms since 1959. He is a Vietnam veteran, serving in the U.S. Army and earning a Bronze Star and Air Medal with clusters. Now retired, he managed the John's Pass marina for 19 years, was executive vice president of The Club and was president of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce. He served three terms on the City Commission from 1998 to 2003. He is married.

District 4

Alan Bildz, 47, moved to Treasure Island in 1996. He works for Sunstar Plumbing Co. and previously worked at a meat-processing factory in Pennsylvania. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2000 and has served on the commission since 2004. He is second vice president of Suncoast League of Cities, chairman of Gulf Beaches Public Library, and is a member of the Florida Beaches and Shores Protection Association and the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce. He is a former board member of the Sunset Beach Civic Association. He is married.

Frederick "Fred" G. Kelsey, 69, has been a Sunset Beach resident since 1999, is a native of St. Pete Beach, and attended Pinellas County schools. He holds a bachelor's degree in industrial management from the University of Florida, an MBA from Rollins College, and an advanced degree in accounting from Florida Southern College. Now retired, he was a self-employed CPA and rental property manager for 35 years. He serves on the Treasure Island Code Enforcement Board, but has never run for office. He is a Stephens Minister and member of the Pasadena Community Church, vice president of the Lions Club, a member of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce and a past treasurer of the Kiwanis Club. He is single.

Bob Weber, 53, has lived in Treasure Island for nearly five years, moving here from Valley Grove, W. Va. He works in the central utility plant at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater and previously worked at the Wheeling Hospital in West Virginia. He has never run for office. He is a member of the Sunset Beach Civic Association and the Free Masons. He is married.

Five vie for two seats on board in Treasure Island 02/28/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 6:47pm]
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