OLDSMAR — Last month, former Mayor Jim Ronecker said he didn't want to be considered to fill the vacant seat on the City Council created by the death of Janice Miller on Feb. 8.
But the City Council wouldn't take no for an answer.
So on March 18, Ronecker, 49, will be sworn in to serve until a special city election next March.
The council had considered two potential appointees: Ronecker and Eric Seidel, who was a council member from 2007 to 2009. In addition to being longtime city residents, both met two other requirements for the job: council experience and no aspirations to seek the seat in the special election. Both men volunteered their services.
City Council members discussed Ronecker and Seidel during their Feb. 18 meeting but didn't make a decision. Afterward, Ronecker told Mayor Doug Bevis to remove his name from consideration. He said the process was starting to seem too much like a political race.
Ronecker told the Tampa Bay Times: "I had told the mayor that if he needed my help, I'd help, but that was if I was the only person they were considering."
After that story appeared, Ronecker started getting calls from old friends and neighbors.
"I really didn't expect so many calls from people asking me to keep an open mind about City Council. I was overwhelmed, knowing so many people wanted me to do this," said Ronecker, 49.
At last week's meeting, council member Jerry Beverland said the appointment process had gotten muddied by all the talking.
"I would suggest, instead of going on like this, we put one of (the two men's) names up and if it doesn't work, we'll put up the other one,'' he said. "... I will make a motion that we accept Jim."
The motion carried 3-1 with Bevis voting no.
"But I am fine with this decision,'' Bevis said. "My vote wasn't a vote against Jim, but I was the one who originally reached out to Eric, so my vote was for the person I reached out to."
Ronecker served on the council from 2003 to 2013, the last six years as mayor. He owns a commercial printing and graphics business and has lived in Pinellas County more than 30 years.
Although he doesn't plan to run again for the City Council, he hasn't ruled out other political positions.
"I come back to the City Council with no hidden agenda. I'm only here for a short amount of time,'' he said. "But in the future, perhaps I'll seek a different office."
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.