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Madeira Beach election not likely to change direction of commission

MADEIRA BEACH — Last week's election is not expected to change the balance of power on a City Commission that has seen all of its top administrators leave in the past year.

Incumbent District 1 Commissioner Terry Lister was re-elected with 63 percent of the vote Tuesday over his challenger, John Anthony.

Lister often was a lone voice of opposition against decisions made by the current commission and its failure for a year to find a city manager.

Nancy Hodges, who similarly criticized the commission, had no opposition in her bid for the District 2 seat now held by Carol Reynolds.

They will be sworn into office at the March 27 commission meeting.

Former Commissioner Len Piotti was campaign manager for both Lister and Hodges.

Piotti is also involved in an effort by a group of residents and former officials to recall two commissioners elected last spring — Nancy Oakley and Robin Vander Velde.

Recall petitions have yet to be filed with the city clerk. Piotti said Friday that he needs more research.

Hodges is expected to be an independent vote on the commission. Previously she was a member of the planning board and frequently attended commission meetings.

Before the election, she said she decided to run because of the many residents who told her they were disappointed and dissatisfied with the direction the commission was taking the city.

Since Oakley was returned to office a year ago in an election that also resulted in a new mayor, Travis Palladeno, and a new commissioner, Vander Velde, the city's administration has been in turmoil.

Just before the election, then-city manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. said he could not work with the incoming commission and asked to be fired.

The city was run by a series of interim managers until virtually a year later when the commission picked Shane Crawford.

The former fire chief, Bill Mallory, had been serving as interim city manager. He resigned in protest in October and is now fire chief in Treasure Island.

Since he took over in January, Crawford has taken strong stands on how the city should operate.

Most recently he suggested the commission change its policies to reduce direct and lengthy interactions between the commission and audience members at commission meetings.

He is also in the process of filling a number of administrative positions vacated over the past year when officials either resigned or had their positions eliminated.

Crawford is assuming the role of public works director and human resources director in addition to his regular duties.

The city has yet to hire a finance director, a planning director and a fire chief.

Madeira Beach election not likely to change direction of commission 03/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 17, 2012 4:31am]
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