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Clearwater City Council races gain shape

CLEARWATER — Two City Council seats will be up for grabs in the March 11 election as Clearwater's qualifying period ended Friday with at least four candidates.

Incumbent Bill Jonson, defending Seat 4, will face David Allbritton, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Downtown Development Board.

Konrad McCree Jr. brought his 250 signed petition cards on mid-afternoon Friday to City Clerk Rosemarie Call, who forwarded them to the county supervisor of elections for review. As her office closed Friday, Call hadn't heard from the county. A verdict on McCree's candidacy is expected early next week.

If approved, McCree, 29, will be third candidate in the race.

Vice Mayor Paul Gibson can't run for Seat 5 because of term limits. Vying to replace him is former council member Hoyt Hamilton, whose family owns the Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach, and Jon-Paul Rosa, an Army veteran who's making his first run for elected office.

Rosa, 30, said his career as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst prompted him to run as a way to continue to serve his community.

He is a part-time business student at St. Petersburg College and lives in the Seville neighborhood near Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and U.S. 19.

Rosa grew up in St. Petersburg, but has lived in Clearwater since leaving the Army in October 2012. He said he wanted neighborhoods in the city like North Greenwood to have a larger voice and would work to improve public transportation.

"It's not all about the beach and downtown," Rosa said.

Hamilton, 55, who served on the council between 1999 and 2006, said he wants another stint on council to bolster public safety and continue beach redevelopment.

"It's all intertwined," said Hamilton, who lives in Coachman Ridge. "The more tax money we have coming from the beach, the less money that has to come from property taxes."

A third announced candidate for the seat, Morton Myers, emailed the city clerk Friday to say he was dropping out of the race to focus on new business ventures.

Jonson, 69, who lives in Countryside, is serving his third term on the council. He said keeping Clearwater neighborhoods safe and attractive is a high priority.

He said he looks forward to campaigning as "a forum to discuss important issues."

"I've been doing my thing and I'm very pleased," Jonson said.

Allbritton, 63, an Island Estates resident, said he has been knocking on doors and laying the groundwork for a busy campaign season.

"Things are going well," he said.

A special congressional election for Congressman C.W. Bill Young's former seat will likely boost turnout among Clearwater's 68,000 voters for the two at-large City Council seats.

Charlie Frago can be reached at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.

Clearwater City Council races gain shape 12/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 13, 2013 6:59pm]
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