INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Candidate qualifying for the March 10 municipal elections closed in two beach communities last week with open seats contested only in Indian Rocks Beach.
In Madeira Beach, no one ran against incumbent Commissioners Nancy Oakley in District 3 and Steve Kochick in District 4. As a result, the city clerk canceled the city's election Monday.
The three candidates vying for two seats on the Indian Rocks Beach Commission are Phillip J. Hanna, Don House Jr. and incumbent Terry Hamilton-Wollin. The highest two vote-getters will win the two seats.
The upcoming campaign promises to be spirited as candidates take positions on continuing and contentious issues — the city's fragile finances, sharply rising property taxes and utility fees, density and height restrictions for new development, and the hiring of a new city manager.
Hanna, 58, is seeking elective office for the first time. He is an 18-year resident of Indian Rocks Beach. He attended Indiana State University, where he majored in broadcasting. He served in the Army and operated Hanna Advertising with his father in Indiana. He later joined a family real estate firm and worked in marketing. He works in real estate and owns a professional television and radio production and marketing company. He is a member of the Clearwater Amateur Radio Society, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Pinellas Realtor Organization, and the 4-H. He is engaged and has two children.
Hanna says he is running largely because Mayor R.B. Johnson asked him to. He previously served on the city's beach management committee. He says his philosophy of governing is to be a team player. During his campaign and later, if elected, Hanna plans to assemble a cadre of advisers he can tap. He also plans to hold regular "cracker barrel" sessions so residents can tell him their concerns.
House, 57, ran unsuccessfully for office last year. He is a North Carolina native and moved to Florida in 1967. He has been a full-time resident of Indian Rocks Beach for the past three years and lives with his family in a home that has been in his family since the 1960s. House earned a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of South Florida. He is self-employed in real estate. House is vice chairman of the Indian Rocks Beach Planning and Zoning Board and is seeking his first elected office. He is married and has two children.
House wants to make the commission is accountable to residents. He said the present commission has "treated symptoms" rather than "looking for a cure" to city problems. He criticized the present commission for stationing a sheriff's deputy at public meetings because, he said, the commission feels intimidated by residents in the audience. House wants the city's enterprise funds to be "more in line with actual costs and not made a political football."
Hamilton-Wollin, 62, seeks her second two-year term in office. She serves as the city's vice mayor and represents the city on the Barrier Islands Governmental Council. Previously, she served as chair of the town's Planning and Zoning Board and the Local Planning Agency, and also was on the board of Action 2000. She is a member of Friends of the Indian Rocks Beach Library, and is active in the Beaches YMCA, Beach Art Center, the Historical Museum, and was appointed to the Hillsborough County and Florida Commission on the Status of Women. She is a 15-year city resident and is a Florida native. Her family first settled in the state in 1831. She graduated from Plant High School in Tampa and attended the University of Wisconsin. She is married and has a son.
Hamilton-Wollin says she is proud of the commission's tough decisions and what she says is a reduction of previous rancor among commissioners. She looks forward to picking a professional city manager and not "settling for mediocrity" as she says was done in the past. One top issue for Hamilton-Wollin is city redevelopment. She wants density and height strictly regulated to ensure that the city retains its small-town character.