NEW PORT RICHEY — With hopes of seeing new people and ideas come forward, two City Council members have decided not to seek re-election in April.
Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe and council member Bob Langford both cited a desire to see new faces on the council and spend time on other pursuits.
Marlowe, 59, told the Tampa Bay Times he wants to focus on growing the downtown computer business he co-owns and spend more time with his young grandchildren.
The deputy mayor, who has served two three-year terms, said his business, GulfCoast Networking, is expanding and needs more of his attention.
"I need to be more aware of what's going on here and pay attention to growing the company," he said.
He said a third factor drove his decision: the belief that serving in government should not be a career but a calling.
"I've called them the best I could see them the last six years," said Marlowe, who said he intended to serve just two terms. "Now I think there are some good folks who will step up."
Making those calls was especially tough this past budget season as the city faced a financial crisis that led to layoffs. Langford, 70, said the grind was a factor in his decision not to run.
Langford said he also wants to devote more time to his volunteer efforts as well as making music in his recording studio and doing work for his publishing company.
"Really, I was going to run again. But I feel like with the hard things we had to do, the budget situation is turning around much quicker than I anticipated," Langford said. "So I feel good about turning it over to a fresh set of brains to move the city forward. I think some great people may step up to the plate here to fill those seats. I'm confident of that."
Both men pointed to the recent cleanup efforts of the Hacienda as a point of pride that should be continued. And both said they enjoyed serving the city and working with their colleagues on council: Bill Phillips, Judy DeBella Thomas and Mayor Bob Consalvo.
"We have made some tough decisions and we don't always agree on everything. But at the end of the day we have always been able to shake hands and agree that everyone did what they thought was best for the city," Marlowe said. "I respect my colleagues immensely for that."
Both men have not ruled out running for council again down the road.
So far, only one candidate has filed to run in the April 9 election. Michael Malterer, 24, is a Penske Truck Leasing operations manager who said his core issues will be the redevelopment of the city-owned Hacienda.
"Hopefully we can push that forward into private sector hands," he said.
Malterer said he also wants to find a use for the Community Hospital property, and focus on bringing businesses to downtown New Port Richey. He is also calling for ending the city's red light program saying it violates driver's due process.
Qualifying week runs from noon Feb. 12 to noon Feb. 19. The top two vote-getters in the April 9 election will get a three-year term on the council.