DUNEDIN — Mayor Bob Hackworth knows the odds are stacked against him, but he thinks he can topple political behemoth U.S. Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young.
Tuesday, in front of City Hall, Hackworth formally announced his candidacy as a Democrat running for the U.S. House District 10 seat. Young, 77, R-Indian Shores, has said he plans to seek a 20th term.
"Clearly it is time for a new beginning, time for a new breed of leader," Hackworth, 52, said in front of a crowd of about 100 people. "I think it's time for some common sense in Washington, D.C."
Meanwhile, two sitting City Commissioners are eyeing Hackworth's seat. Dave Eggers, who is up for re-election and Deborah Kynes, who just won a fourth term, said they are interested in becoming Dunedin's next mayor.
Hackworth will remain on the City Commission while he runs for Congress. He has a year remaining in his three-year term as mayor.
If unsuccessful in his bid for federal office, Hackworth could run for local re-election. While he didn't rule a second term as Dunedin's mayor out as a possibility, he said he hopes to be in Washington.
But both Kynes and Eggers say they are ready to step in as Dunedin's top elected leader.
"You come to a point where you feel at another echelon you could be more effective," said Kynes, who stressed she would only run if she felt it was in the city's best interest.
Eggers, who has been on the commission for five years, said running for mayor is the natural next step for him. He said he wants to be an advocate for infrastructure enhancement, be fiscally cautious and focus on building and economic redevelopment.
Commissioner Julie Scales, who is also up for re-election, said she plans to run for another term but isn't interested in being mayor now. Vice Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski, who was just re-elected, also said she wouldn't seek the position.
Hackworth said he was motivated to run because he's become concerned with the way the federal government is being run. He cited the country's $9-trillion debt, the struggling economy and "a dubious and costly war in Iraq."
"None of these problems will ever be fixed if we keep sending the same politicians back to Washington year after year," he said.
Hackworth said he is a good example of a citizen legislator and thinks citizens don't want to be represented by a professional politician who lives in D.C.
Addressing his recent switch in party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, Hackworth said he registered as a Republican as a youth but typically votes for the person, not the party. Since Dunedin's elections are nonpartisan, he said he didn't see the need to formally switch his affiliation.
He said he made the change because he wanted to vote in the Democratic presidential primary in January. He also feels the Republican party has failed to govern.
Others candidates include Jason Diviki, an independent from St. Petersburg; Democrat Samm Simpson who ran against Young in 2006; and Max Linn, who ran for governor in 2006 as the Reform Party candidate. Linn will run as a Democrat.
Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727)445-4181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.