TARPON SPRINGS — David O. Archie became the city's first black mayor Tuesday, besting local attorney Matt King.
"I thank God for the opportunity to serve the people of Tarpon," Archie, 56, said. "(The election) continues to tell me about what Tarpon Springs is about as a whole.
"It's a tremendous achievement to be mayor and to be the first African-American is definitely exciting."
Commissioner Chris Alahouzos, 59, maintained his seat after being challenged by political newcomer Beverly Z. Kurpinski. Jeff Larsen, the city's Planning and Zoning Board chairman, defeated local Realtor Joe Muzio for a second commission seat.
Tarpon voters also approved nine city charter questions that ranged from required approval from residents before the city can dismantle its Fire Department to requiring the assistant city manager and the development services director to reside within the city within one year of being hired.
After two terms, current Mayor Beverley Billiris and Commissioner Peter Dalacos must vacate their offices due to term limits. Commissioners Robin Saenger and Susan Slattery were not up for election this cycle.
Larsen, 32, a middle school educator, will fill Dalacos' seat. He said he looks forward to serving residents.
"I am elated that the voters of Tarpon Springs have chosen to make me their next city commissioner," Larsen said. "Campaigning over the last several months was a lot of work, but the real work begins on March 16 when I'm sworn in."
Tuesday was Alahouzos' first challenged election. He was first appointed to the seat in December 2006 after state Rep. Peter Nehr left the commission for Tallahassee. The following March, he ran unopposed.
"I feel very humble at the trust and the love I experienced from the people and the input and response I got," Alahouzos said Tuesday night.
"It's something that will make me work even harder, and I'm looking forward to working with a new commission for the betterment of Tarpon Springs."
The mayor's job pays $13,000 a year, and a commissioner garners $8,000. Both positions come with health insurance.
The second youngest of six children, Archie was raised on Tarpon Springs' Morgan Street in the home where his mother still resides.
He went to elementary school at the mostly black Union Academy before heading to Tarpon Springs middle and high schools in the 1960s during the early stages of integration.
He is now the executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Progress, a nonprofit that is housed in the old Union Academy elementary school that he attended as a child.
Archie served on the commission from 1996 to 2001 and had to step down due to term limits. He was re-elected in March 2002 and served until 2008, when he again had to step down due to term limits.
Archie's mayoral campaign platform centered on his experience and putting the issues of Tarpon's residents first instead of those of special interest groups.
"I never envisioned running for office," Archie said Tuesday. "But I've always been involved in making sure there was fairness, whether it was with the library or the recreation department."
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174.