OLDSMAR — The City Council has begun the process of choosing someone to fill the council seat vacated by the death of Janice Miller on Feb. 8.
Miller had two years left in her three-year term. The council will have to appoint someone to serve until a special election in March 2015, and the person who wins that election will serve one year until the regular election in March 2016.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Doug Bevis stressed that the council's appointee now should not have aspirations to run for the seat next March. "They would have an unfair advantage,'' Bevis said.
He went on to identify two potential appointees: former Mayor Jim Ronecker and former council member Eric Seidel.
"Both of these men have offered to step up to help,'' Bevis said.
However, on Thursday, Ronecker notified Bevis that he wanted his name withdrawn from consideration.
"I had told the mayor that if he needed my help, I'd help, but that was if I was the only person they were considering. This is not a political race,'' Ronecker said.
When reached by phone, Seidel, who owns a software company and serves on the Oldsmar Fire Fighter Pension Board, said he would be honored to "fill the remainder of my friend's term.''
Seidel, 50, also stressed that he understood why Ronecker withdrew his name.
"We are all friends, and we are not campaigning against each other. This situation is difficult. Jim has already proven himself as an outstanding public servant,'' he said.
Because the city charter dictates that the vacancy must be filled within 30 days, the City Council plans to formalize the appointment at its next meeting on March 4.
Coincidentally, Seidel first joined the council on Jan. 16, 2007, because of the death of council member Don Bohr. Bohr's term was set to expire in March of that year, and since Seidel had already qualified to run for Bohr's seat, he just filled the position early.
Two years later, Seidel was forced to resign from the council because of a neck injury that required major surgery.
"I want to bring this all back to Janice,'' he said. "I remember after my spine surgery, the first person outside of my family to visit me was Janice Miller. Through council, we had become close.''
Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.