Gabby McGee, 26, may be Oldsmar's youngest council member ever

Gabby McGee, 26, may be the youngest City Council member ever to serve in Oldsmar.

Special to the Times

Gabby McGee, 26, may be the youngest City Council member ever to serve in Oldsmar.

OLDSMAR — Voters on Tuesday may have elected the youngest City Council member ever to serve in Oldsmar.

Gabby McGee, 26, won Seat 3 with 60 percent of the vote, outpacing Dan Saracki, 53, and Suda Yantiss-Colon, 50. Nearly 1,700 people cast ballots.

"I always say, 'It's not about how long you've lived somewhere,' " she said on the campaign trail. "It's what you've done.'"

Though Oldsmar kept no record of council members' ages before 1950, City Clerk Ann Stephan said McGee is the youngest council member reflected in those records, and maybe ever.

McGee's election also created, for the first time, a female majority on the council. The five-member council already has two other female members, Janice Miller and Linda Norris.

"It'd be sexist to say that's something significant," said Vice Mayor Jerry Beverland. "Women deserve a seat on the council as much as men. That's obvious."

Beverland, who was twice mayor and first elected to council at age 35, said McGee's age shouldn't help or hinder her success.

"It depends on the individual," he said. "Experience says a lot. But experience isn't always right. As long as you don't bring agendas to the council, I welcome you. As long as you bring good, fresh ideas, I don't care if you're 25 or 65."

McGee, who grew up in Palm Harbor and moved to Oldsmar about six years ago, is an information technology account manager for Cisco Systems who loves gourmet cooking and vintage houses.

She fully renovated her first home, a 1918 bungalow on Buckingham Avenue W, and now gives tours of the house. She is working with state officials to establish an official historic district in Oldsmar.

"I am completely elated and exhausted at the same time," she said Wednesday. "I am completely humbled and honored by the number of people that showed their support for me."

Moving forward, the University of Tampa graduate said she wants to work with council members to create more pedestrian-friendly streets, attract more major retailers (through site proposals, which she writes in her spare time) and increase interactions between city officials and residents using a city-funded "MindMixer" account — a "virtual city hall" website also used by Tampa.

McGee will make a solid addition to the city's current leaders, Beverland said. She'll serve the two years remaining in Mayor-elect Doug Bevis' term.

"She does her homework — I know she does—and she doesn't seem to go off on a tangent," Beverland said. "You ask her a question and she readily answers. She's prepared."

McGee was the only candidate who got formal endorsements during the campaign, winning them from the Palm Harbor/Oldsmar Professional Firefighters, the Pinellas Realtor Organization, the Fraternal Order of Police Pinellas Lodge 43 and the Fraternal Order of Police Clearwater Lodge 10.

Jason Schwabe, district vice president of the Palm Harbor/Oldsmar Professional Firefighters Local 2980, said McGee impressed the group with her knowledge of the city. "She already actively does so much for the city. We thought she'd bring a fresh perspective."

Joe Farrell of the Pinellas Realtor Organization said he was impressed by McGee's energy and drive.

"It's evident to anyone who meets her: She has unbridled enthusiasm for her community," he said.

Danielle Paquette can be reached at dpaquette@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4224.

Gabby McGee, 26, may be Oldsmar's youngest council member ever 03/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:46pm]

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