Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo City Commissioner Murray wins unopposed; Black faces challenger

LARGO — There was no party, no popping of champagne corks or cutting of a cake, but Vice Mayor Robert Murray does have a reason to celebrate this week — he won a second term on the City Commission.

Murray's victory was official at close of business Monday, the last day candidates could submit paperwork at City Hall to qualify to run for Seats 1 or 2 on the commission. Election Day is Nov. 8.

While the incumbent Murray emerged from the two-week qualifying period unopposed, earning another three years at Seat 2, Commissioner Mary Gray Black will face challenger Michael Smith, a librarian less than half Black's age.

Black, 72, has held Seat 1 since 2005, and also served stints on the commission in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Smith, 30, is a Largo native and senior library assistant at Pinellas Park Public Library.

Black touts her experience and knowledge of the city's charter, which she says city management regularly ignores. She says she speaks for the people who elected her when she questions city management's fiscal decisions, like the recommended 2012 budget that calls for adopting the rollback rate.

The rollback rate is the tax rate that generates the same amount of tax revenue for the city after accounting for changing property values and new construction. In Largo, in 2012, that means increasing the tax rate from about 4.31 mills to about 4.56 mills; something which Black strongly opposes.

Smith, who also worked at Seminole Library and served on Largo's Historical Preservation Advisory Committee, said he's been researching for two years which seat on Largo's commission to run for. He picked Black's seat, he said, because she's the commissioner he disagrees with the most.

"The questions she asks (at commission meetings); she doesn't sound like someone who's prepped to be there," Smith said. "It doesn't sound like she does her homework."

Black took issue with that claim.

"I was elected by more than 60 percent of the vote. Apparently the people felt that I was doing a good job, and I was representing the people," she said. "I think if he attended more meetings he would realize that I certainly do my homework."

City commissioners earn an annual salary of $13,125.46. Murray and the winner of the Black-Smith contest will be the last Largo commissioners to serve three-year terms. Voters approved a 2010 referendum lengthening terms for Largo city commissioners to four years.

In a confusing quirk, Murray and the Seat 1 winner will serve three-year terms even though Commissioners Harriet Crozier and Woody Brown, both elected last year, are serving four-year terms. The three-year terms are being kept this year to eliminate odd-year elections in the future. In 2012, three commission seats will be up for election, while the other four will come up in 2014.

Murray, meanwhile, won't have to worry about a campaign. He was a bit surprised to not draw an opponent, given the anti-incumbent vibe that has been popular nationwide of late.

Murray, 57, said this will probably be his last term. He teaches aviation maintenance at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and cited the time commitment as a reason for wanting this term to be his last.

His three years on the commission have been marked by dropping property values and budget-cutting. While Murray hopes the economy turns around during his next term, he said the experience he's acquired in office will help him work toward his goal of maintaining city services in tight budgetary times.

"I think people have become accustomed to the quality of life in Largo, and I'm a firm believer in maintaining that," he said.

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@sptimes.com.

Largo City Commissioner Murray wins unopposed; Black faces challenger 08/16/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 5:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Nation

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  2. June 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter series.
  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Philando Castile family reaches $3 million settlement in death

    Crime

    MINNEAPOLIS — The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

    A handout dashboard camera image of Officer Jeronimo Yanez firing at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., July 6, 2016. [Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension via The New York Times]
  5. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.