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Leslie Waters takes Seminole mayor slot without opposition

SEMINOLE — Leslie Waters was elected mayor Monday when no one signed up to oppose her in the upcoming city election.

But Seminole voters will have ample choices in the race for the two open seats on the City Council. Incumbents Thom Barnhorn, 56, and Jim Quinn, 73, will be running for re-election against Tom Christy and Matt Nilssen. Christy, 61, has run before. Nilssen, 38, is making his first run for the Seminole council. The two highest vote-getters will take office.

Waters, 65, has been serving as interim mayor since November, when Jimmy Johnson resigned for health reasons.

"I am very pleased that no one is opposing me for mayor of Seminole," Waters said Monday. "I am glad that my attention over the next months will be focused on the business of the city instead of on a political campaign.

"With the new year upon us, 2013 brings an exciting era to Seminole with millions of dollars of investments coming into the city, hundreds of jobs centered on huge development projects such as out at Bay Pines, the Seminole Mall, our waterfront park, the former Jesse's Landing site and a multipurpose renovation at the old City Hall.''

Waters graduated from Boca Ciega High School, attended St. Petersburg Junior College (now St. Petersburg College) and received bachelor's and master's degrees from Florida State University. She is a Supreme Court-certified mediator and has a senior professional in human resources certification. She worked for 29 years with Allstate Insurance in human resources, corporate relations, marketing and government relations management.

She served in the state House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006, where she was chairwoman of the House Insurance Committee, the Transportation and Economic Development Committee, and chairman of several other joint select committees. During her last two years, she served as speaker pro-tem.

Since being forced out by term limits, she has run her own consulting firm, acting as a lobbyist in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., and presenting workshops in Florida, elsewhere in the United States, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. She also spent two years as an adjunct political science professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

She was elected to the City Council in 2009 and was serving as vice mayor when Johnson stepped down.

She is married to Al Waters.

Seminole has a council-manager form of government and an operating budget of about $15.2 million. The City Council is composed of the mayor and six council members, who are responsible for setting the budget and adopting policy.

The mayor earns $9,300 a year, and council members earn $5,562. Members generally serve three-year terms, but in 2010 voters approved moving elections to coincide with the November general elections so Waters' and the council members' terms will be three years and seven months. The March 12 election will be the last Seminole municipal election held in the spring.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Leslie Waters takes Seminole mayor slot without opposition 12/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 5:01pm]
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