PINELLAS PARK — Mayor Bill Mischler will not seek a seventh term and will retire from public life when his term ends in March.
Mischler, 69, made his surprise announcement at Thursday's Pinellas Park City Council meeting. He read a letter to the audience:
"After 41 years of public service — 32 of those years as a member of City Council and nine years as a member of the Planning and Zoning Board, I have decided to retire at the end of my current term as mayor in March 2012.
"I want to thank the members of the current and past city councils, the city manager, the various department heads and the employees of our city for their support. I especially want to thank the citizens of Pinellas Park for giving me the opportunity to serve them over these many years. I will be forever grateful to them.
"I am very proud and fortunate to have participated in the growth, development and positive changes in our city.
"Finally, I want to thank my wife, Joan, for her unending support, without which I would not have been able to serve."
Mischler's announcement opened the door for other council members to try for his seat. There was only one taker.
Sandy Bradbury, 47, submitted her resignation Friday to run for the seat. State law requires someone serving on the council to resign at least 10 days before filing opens in order to run for another office. Bradbury, daughter of former Mayor Cecil Bradbury, has served on the council since 2002. Filing opens Nov. 7.
Mischler has been a high-profile mayor, holding court most mornings in the McDonald's at the Super Walmart to talk with any resident who happens by. He also has been a regular with the city's monthly business visitation program and a fixture at other community events. Although he always smiled and seemed to get a kick out of the job, it apparently took its toll.
"Everybody wants the mayor to be there," he said. "I hate to tell people no."
In essence, the part-time job has become full time.
Mischler has sat on the Metropolitan Planning Organization for more than 30 years and once served as its chairman. He has served as president of the Pinellas County Mayors Council. He serves on the board of trustees of Northside Hospital and Tampa Bay Heart Institute, the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute board of directors and the U.S. Conference of Mayors committees on transportation and communications and criminal and social justice. He is a community advisory board member for Clothes To Kids Inc.
He was the main founder of People Helping People of Pinellas Park, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that assists elderly, disabled or incapacitated residents on fixed incomes with yard work and minor repairs to their property.
Mischler was first appointed to the zoning board in 1971. He served for nine years, five as chairman. In March 1980, he was elected to the City Council and was re-elected in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. In 1998, halfway through his fifth term, he resigned to run for mayor. He won the seat and was re-elected in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Mischler said he wants to travel with his wife.
"I'll miss it," he said. But he cautioned the other four council members, "You'll have to put up with me for the next three or four months. It's not over yet, folks."
Reach Anne Lindberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.