Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Cretekos elected as Clearwater mayor in landslide

CLEARWATER — Voters elected George Cretekos as Clearwater's new mayor Tuesday in a landslide.

Cretekos, a vice mayor who joined the City Council in 2007, won 71 percent of the vote against opponent Christine Marketos-Cuomo, a retired federal employee who was never seen at a city meeting. Cretekos got 12,000 votes, more than double Marketos-Cuomo, and outspent her in campaigning 50 to 1.

"I'm honored, I'm humbled, I'm overwhelmed," Cretekos said Tuesday night at his Island Way Grill election party on Island Estates. "It's hard to believe a boy from Tarpon Springs has become the mayor of Clearwater."

Cretekos, 65, will succeed term-limited Mayor Frank Hibbard, a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney senior vice president who became mayor in 2005. Elected to the council in 2002, Hibbard became the city's second-longest-serving politician and Clearwater's outspoken voice across Tampa Bay.

Political newcomers Doreen DiPolito and Jay Polglaze, who ran unopposed, will be sworn in alongside Cretekos on Feb. 13, filling the City Council seats of Cretekos and term-limited member John Doran.

Voters also swatted down a referendum that would have extended council term limits from two four-year terms to three. They also rejected a scheduling change for the volunteer Charter Review Committee and approved a referendum requiring the city to publicize when its annual audit is released.

Marketos-Cuomo, 63, said she had no regrets about the race, adding that she had reached a lot of people as she campaigned across the city.

"This hand shook thousands of hands," Marketos-Cuomo said Tuesday night at the Laconian Center, a Greek social hall. "I hope George listens to the people, because there were a lot of concerns."

More than 17,000 voted in Clearwater — about 25 percent of the electorate — most of them by mail. The 11,000 mail ballots totaled more than all the votes filed in the city's 2010 election, during which two council seats were decided by only 13 percent of voters.

Cretekos raised more than $60,000 while Marketos-Cuomo raised $2,000, half of which she paid herself. While Marketos-Cuomo spent almost all she raised, Cretekos spent about $30,000 — a payment of about 40 cents a vote.

A Tarpon Springs native who hocked curios as a boy near the famous Sponge Docks, Cretekos joined the Capitol Hill staff of Rep. C.W. Bill Young in 1970, fresh out of graduate school. He moved to Clearwater in 1976, where he became Young's chief aide, and retired here, after 36 years on Young's staff, in 2006.

Cretekos joined the council in 2007 and was re-elected in 2008, but his race against Marketos-Cuomo was the first time he faced competition. Cretekos said he visited 3,000 homes door-to-door during his campaign, and his signs peppered the yards of some of the city's most notable residents.

In the days before the election, Cretekos' campaign dispatched robo-calls of his 9-year-old godson, Zachary Dermody, applauding Cretekos for showing "good old-fashioned common sense."

Marketos-Cuomo campaigned as the fresh-faced underdog, a "people person" with 30 years of experience as an executive assistant in the federal government. But after skipping an influential neighborhood forum and accusing Cretekos' supporters, during another forum, of stealing her campaign signs, many questioned her viability as a serious candidate.

Asked whether she would run again for office, Marketos-Cuomo smirked and shrugged her shoulders.

"Who knows?" Marketos-Cuomo said. "It's whatever God wants."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or [email protected] Send letters to the editor at tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18