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November election could bring shake-up on Dunedin commission

DUNEDIN — A potential shake-up looms for the Dunedin City Commission.

One commissioner has announced he won't seek re-election, a former commissioner says he is contemplating throwing his hat back in the ring and Mayor Dave Eggers confirmed Tuesday that he is "definitely very seriously" considering running for the Pinellas County Commission.

Two-term Commissioner Ron Barnette announced over the weekend that he had met his goal of "leaving the city in a better place than it had been when I took office" in March 2009. He encouraged other "civic-minded individuals" to assume his place.

"Holding political office for its own sake is not my goal," Barnette wrote in a statement. "It is a treasured but finite opportunity to serve one's community, and then make way for others to do the same."

Barnette had no opponent when he won re-election to his current term in 2011.

Eggers told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday that he is interested in the County Commission seat being vacated by Republican Commissioner Susan Latvala, who is retiring. Eggers said he will announce his decision later this week.

Now in his fourth term as a Dunedin official, Eggers served as a city commissioner from 2003 until 2009, when he was elected mayor. He most recently defended his seat against former Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth in 2012.

"This is a big decision when you are stepping down from a seat before your term is up," Eggers said. "There's an awful lot going on and a lot to consider."

Meanwhile, former city commissioner David Carson, who spent one three-year term on the dais before he was ousted by political newcomer Heather Gracy in the November 2012 election, has picked up a campaign packet from City Hall.

However, he said, "I haven't decided just what I'm going to do yet or which seat I might entertain."

Carson, who retired and sold his pest control business three months ago, said he still keeps in touch with his former commission colleagues, reviews meeting recordings and was highly disappointed in a recent commission vote against dredging Cedar Creek and Lake Sperry.

Dunedin Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski, who is also up for re-election this November, said she is "definitely running" for a city post, but she hasn't decided which one yet.

Bujalski was first elected in March 2006 to a two-year commission seat vacated by Hackworth. She was re-elected to three-year terms in 2008 and 2011.

In November 2012, Dunedin commission terms were extended from three to four years.

In an interview Tuesday, Barnette, 71, said he is most proud of helping Dunedin establish a variety of activities and services that allow folks "to enjoy a splendid quality of life either as citizens or visitors."

He said "there will be no endorsement on my behalf until I'm convinced the right candidate is there." He plans to make himself available to answer questions, offer advice and help smooth the transition.

"I'll miss very much (my) service," Barnette said. "But I'm not leaving things behind. I'm just moving on to a different phase of service for the town."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

November election could bring shake-up on Dunedin commission 02/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 6:56pm]
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