Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Oldsmar's sole race is for City Council Seat 4

OLDSMAR — Jerry Beverland wrapped up his 12th stint as a City Council member about a year ago.

"You all have been incredible to work with," said Beverland at the end of the City Council meeting March 3, 2015. "One person doesn't do a thing by himself. It takes a whole group of people to make (the city) a success."

However, there was something that Beverland did not say: goodbye.

On Tuesday, Oldsmar voters will choose a new council member for Seat 4, open after Linda Norris reached term limits. Vying for the seat are Beverland, who first served on the council in 1970, and political newcomer Becky Afonso, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association.

Beverland, 80, is a retired owner of a roofing business and a landscaping business. He also is the author of four books on Oldsmar's history.

Afonso, 52, is an avid cyclist who is a well-known advocate for the Oldsmar trail system. She recalled that her interest in city government date backs to 2010, when she participated in the Oldsmar Citizens Academy. She also has served on the city's charter review task force, the leisure services advisory board and the Pinellas County Citizens Advisory Board.

Beverland has cited two issues as reasons for his candidacy: the failed Market Square project and the imminent retirement of long-time City Manager Bruce Haddock.

"Bruce has done well for Oldsmar, and I want to be sure to choose a city manager that loves this city as much as I do," he said. "Well, actually nobody loves Oldsmar as much as I do."

Afonso is approaching the issue of hiring a new city manager a different way.

"You know Jerry says that he wants to help choose the new city manager, but for me, one of the reasons I want to be on City Council now is because Bruce Haddock is still here," she said. "I want to work with him. I want to learn from him."

Regarding Market Square, a downtown development that was expected to be built along State Street, the City Council recently entered an agreement with University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design to create a new vision for Oldsmar's entire community redevelopment area — from State Street to St. Petersburg Drive.

At a joint work session between the city and the USF students last month, discussion revolved around Oldsmar's green spaces and creating "walkability," a buzz term describing how friendly an area is to pedestrians.

Although Beverland has been a strong advocate for Oldsmar's parks, he is not convinced walkability should be a primary focus at this point.

"Walkability? What will they walk to?" he said. "They need to be talking about what will go in the development area to draw people in so they will want to walk around, and I will make that clear. I wish I had gone to that work session."

Afonso, however, applauded the walkability discussion in large part because of her belief in alternative forms of transportation.

"Let's say they put a (performing art center) there. It's important to think about how the people get there, and once they are there, how they will move around," she said. "If you are still thinking in an automobile-centric way, you are not doing what's best for Oldsmar."

Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Election day is Tuesday, and along with the presidential primary, voters in these Pinellas cities will decide local races:

Belleair Clearwater Gulfport Indian Rocks Beach Madeira Beach Oldsmar Pinellas Park South Pasadena St. Pete Beach Tarpon Springs Treasure Island

• If you have a mail-in ballot, you can drop it off at the Oldsmar Public Library, 400 St. Petersburg Drive E, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Monday, or you can drop it off at your precinct Tuesday.

• Early voting is through 5 p.m. today at these locations: 315 Court St. in Clearwater, 13001 Starkey Road in Largo and 501 First Ave. N in St. Petersburg.

• For information, call the Supervisor of Elections Office at (727) 464-8683 or see more online at votepinellas.com.

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