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Oldsmar ready to fill City Council vacancy next week

OLDSMAR — City Council members signaled Wednesday they will be ready as soon as Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by Eric Seidel.

"We don't need to delay it any further," Vice Mayor Jerry Beverland said.

"We need to have a full council to represent the people of Oldsmar," council member Suzanne Vale said. "That's the way that we work best."

Beverland, Vale, council member Doug Bevis and Mayor Jim Ronecker made clear they will not consider appointing anyone who is running or desiring to run for office in the March elections.

"I think it would be an unfair advantage," Bevis said. "If it was uncontested, that's different."

So far, two people — former council member Loretta Wyandt and code enforcement board alternate Robert Brown — have picked up candidate packets for the Seat 4 election. The qualifying period begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday and ends at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

Ronecker said he will present his choice to the council for a vote during its meeting Tuesday.

He said he has discussed it with the city manager, a former mayor and some residents, but was not ready to publicly name the person yet.

"I haven't spoken to my council yet," Ronecker said. "I'm not going to negotiate anything through the St. Petersburg Times."

He said his nominee isn't former council member Babe Wright, whose name comes up when council seats become vacant. But his choice is another former council member, he said.

"It's somebody that's lived in the city longer than I've been alive," said Ronecker, who is 45. "Their qualifications are impeccable. All thought it was an excellent choice."

Assistant city clerk Kathy Horvath said council members have 30 days from the day the seat is vacated to name a replacement. An appointee must be a registered voter and an Oldsmar resident for at least one year. The person serves until March.

Seidel, 46, submitted his resignation letter Oct. 21, a day after announcing during a council meeting he is scheduled to undergo surgery Nov. 4.

He fractured his cervical spine two months ago while boxing, the second time he'd injured it since a 2005 fall down stairs.

Seidel said a bone fragment has shifted inside his vertebrae, pressing against his spinal cord.

Surgeons will try to get the fragment out, but the recovery period could last as long as six months.

He could be immobile the first three months.

Seidel, who had four months left on his first term, said stepping down was difficult.

"I'm extremely disappointed that I didn't get to finish out my term," he said. "The only thing worse than that is to stay in office and not be able to go to meetings and do the job that I was elected to do."

Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4167.

Oldsmar ready to fill City Council vacancy next week 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 7:45pm]
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