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Safety Harbor mayoral candidate unopposed, so wins automatically

SAFETY HARBOR — The city will get a new mayor in January, but his name won't appear on this year's city election ballot.

Vice Mayor Joe Ayoub was automatically elected mayor Friday when no one filed to run against him.

Ayoub will finish out the unexpired term of Mayor Andy Steingold, who is running for judge and must leave office in January whether he wins or loses his judicial race.

There will still be a special city election on Nov. 6, however, because when candidate qualifying ended at 11:59 a.m. Friday, three people had filed to run for Ayoub's seat.

They are Richard Blake, Ray R. Irvin and Robert Saltzman.

Only Blake was available for comment Friday. The 34-year-old real estate agent is a native of Pinellas County who has lived in Safety Harbor for more than 20 years. He serves on the city's Planning and Zoning Board and the Waterfront Park Steering Committee.

Blake said he has no political aspirations beyond Safety Harbor and decided to run "just to make a great place we live in even better."

Ayoub, who currently has the rotating title of vice mayor, was just reelected to his City Commission seat in January, but after Steingold announced he would be leaving the mayor's post, Ayoub was clearly in the running for mayor.

He had heard that someone else would also be seeking the post, but no one else came forward by the deadline Friday.

"I'm humbled by the opportunity to serve as mayor of Safety Harbor," Ayoub said Friday. "I'm going to work real hard to keep the city going in a good direction."

Steingold will be leaving the city in good shape, Ayoub said, "and I want to build on that."

Ayoub, 36, works for a computer company called Data Blue, which is headquartered in Atlanta. He has a degree in accounting from the University of Florida and has been a city commissioner since 2007.

Ayoub, along with the winner of his commission seat in the Nov. 6 election, will be sworn in at a City Commission meeting in January.

As mayor, Ayoub said, he wants to make sure that commissioners continue their respectful attitudes toward each other — something that hasn't always been present in Safety Harbor.

He said he also wants to work on getting commission consensus on big issues before moving forward.

Examples of big issues he mentioned are development of the city's new bayfront parkland and how the city should spend its revenue.

Diane Steinle can be reached at (727) 445-4152 or dsteinle@tampabay.com.

Safety Harbor mayoral candidate unopposed, so wins automatically 07/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 27, 2012 7:46pm]
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