Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski on her historic win, city vision

Julie Ward Bujalski is the first female mayor in 
26 years.

Julie Ward Bujalski is the first female mayor in 26 years.

DUNEDIN — The city made history on Election Day when voters not only cast their ballots in an unprecedented race between two female candidates but chose Dunedin's first female mayor in nearly three decades.

The title went to Julie Ward Bujalski, who defeated longtime commission colleague Julie Scales by gaining 56 percent of votes.

Bujalski, 48, will lead a new commission majority that was automatically elected in June when no one filed to run against them.

She, former commissioner Deborah Kynes and seasoned city volunteers Bruce Livingston and John Tornga will join Heather Gracy, who was elected in 2012, on the dais during a swearing-in ceremony Monday.

Meanwhile, Bujalski agreed to answer some questions regarding her vision for the city, the commission's changing dynamic and her own place in Dunedin history.

As Dunedin's new mayor, what priorities do you plan to tackle first?

The first priority is working with our new commission to become a strong team. But a close second is sitting down with the Toronto Blue Jays to work through what our collective needs are and how we can work together to achieve them.

What are some things Dunedin has done well and some things the city could improve on?

Dunedin is an awesome community, which I'm proud to say is a trendsetter in many ways. The thing we do best is achieving uniqueness in everything we try and accomplish. Having said that, we can always do better. Expanding two-way communication with our residents, building on our relationships with other communities, and ensuring our resident customer service is pleasant and uncomplicated are things I feel we can always expand and improve upon.

You're filling the last two years of former mayor Dave Eggers' four-year term. If you run again, what accomplishments would you hope to campaign on?

Right now, we have several large issues to tackle like working with the Toronto Blue Jays and keeping spring training in Dunedin, creating a long-term parking solution in our downtown, and working with the county to ensure we get a compatible Causeway Bridge when the replacement occurs. That will be our focus for the next two years. I feel that these issues will dictate how we will move forward beyond the next two years. But I will say that working on a revised Storm Water Master Plan, collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Dunedin on an expanded marketing plan for year-round tourism, and accomplishing an Economic Development Plan for State Road 580 are all long-term goals that our city needs to tackle now and into the future.

Your election marks the first time in 26 years that Dunedin has had a female mayor (and the second election cycle in as many years that has resulted in a female majority on the board) — a rarity among most elected panels except school board. Your thoughts on this milestone?

I'm very honored to be the first female mayor in 26 years and the third since Dunedin's existence. The honorable Judy Gould (1976-1978) and Mary Bonner (1982-1988) have given me very large shoes to fill. But I feel that the more important thing is we have a phenomenal new group of elected leaders who have stepped up to represent our residents with a fresh perspective and new ideas and that's what will benefit our community the most. I know they are just as excited as I am to work with our residents to keep Dunedin the quaint and unique place it has been for generations.

Closing thoughts?

I would like to thank former Mayor and now County Commissioner-elect Dave Eggers for his longtime leadership of Dunedin. His steady hand guiding Dunedin through a tough recession and recovery has truly made our city more efficient and a more affordable place to live. I would also like to thank outgoing Commissioners Ron Barnette and Julie Scales. Their service to our community has been invaluable and we would not be the community we are without their leadership. And finally, I sincerely thank the residents of Dunedin for putting their faith in me. I look forward to working with each of you to make Dunedin the best it can be.

Contact Keyonna Summers at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. Follow @KeyonnaSummers.

.FAST FACTS

Busy week in Dunedin

Next week will be busy for the City Commission.

• At 6 p.m. Monday, officials will swear in new Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski and Commissioners John Tornga, Bruce Livingston and Deborah Kynes.

• A workshop on downtown parking is set from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday.

• Commissioners have their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Meetings will be held at City Hall, 542 Main St.

Q&A: Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski on her historic win, city vision 11/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2014 10:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Landy Martinez murder case to featured on Investigation Discovery show

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  4. Hernando sheriff: Orlando mother turns in 18-year-old son in pawn shop burglary

    Crime

    Times Staff Writer

    SPRING HILL — Hernando deputies have arrested a fourth person in connection with a pawn shop burglary, but they really didn't have to do anything to find him.

    Elijah Pickard, 18, of Orlando, was turned in by his own mother in connection with a pawn shop burglary, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office [Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]