DUNEDIN — The mayor and at least one commissioner will leave office after the March 10 election, but there's no lack of candidates to take their place. Eight people have qualified to run — two in each of the four races.
"It's been a good group of commissioners who collectively have accomplished a lot in challenging times," said Mayor Bob Hackworth, 53, who lost his bid in November for the U.S. House seat held by Bill Young and is not running for re-election.
"When I announced for Congress, I clearly said it was an up-or-out decision," he said this week. "I didn't go up, so now I'm out."
It will be two more years before any City Commission seat is up for election again. Hackworth said a bigger jurisdiction would better suit his skills, but he didn't say he won't run.
"I haven't ruled anything out," he said.
Dave Eggers, 51, is married with two adult children, a commissioner for nearly six years. He owns Centerpointe Realty of Dunedin, is past chairman of the board for the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce and a Little League umpire. Vice chairman of the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization, Eggers said he's running for mayor because he has "a deep love for the city, just a strong interest in keeping and building on what we've built here."
Deborah Kynes, 58, is also married with two adult children, a commissioner for nearly 10 years. A lawyer, her term as chairwoman of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council recently ended, and she's past chairwoman of numerous other public groups. "I truly believe it's the best and worst of times," she said this week. "We're in a difficult time, but that will give us time for reflection, planning and visioning, to set in place our community for years to come."
Michael A. Quill, 50, is married with a 5-year-old daughter. A retired police lieutenant, he owns Quill Properties, a small commercial properties company, and volunteers with the Tampa Police Department. He has run once before and resigned as vice chairman of the city's stadium advisory committee to run again. He says Dunedin is the world's best community. "I want to be part of it, the best services at affordable rates," he said. "That's what I'm going to deliver."
Incumbent Julie Scales, 62, is married, a commissioner for nearly six years. A lawyer, she's the executive director of the philanthropic Pinellas Community Foundation. "These are challenging times at every level of government," she said. "I can bring my experience and expertise in helping to meet these challenges and also to maintain stability on the commission."
Ron Barnette, 66, is married with three grown children. A retired college professor and administrator, he is running for commission for the second time and has served on numerous city boards and committees. He and his wife, Candy, were featured in a story about Dunedin in the November issue of Money magazine. He said Dunedin offers unique opportunities. "It's a lovely, pedestrian-friendly, eclectic community," he said.
Tony Scruton, 66, is married with two grown children and ran for commission once before. In the thoroughbred horse racing business, he was an owner, breeder, rider, trainer and manager. Then he created a Web site to sell automobile parts and sold the site. "Dunedin is a very unique residential community," he said. "As an elected official, I really want to keep this uniqueness and move forward with common sense."
David C. Carson, 53, is married and owns a pest control business with his brother, Jack Carson. He is campaigning for the first time, riding in on his single-speed Schwinn. In business for 26 years, he said he has crafted budgets in tight economic times, just as the city will have to do. He loves the city, he said, and has served on numerous boards and committees, but would like to do more. "This is a time for me to give back," he said.
John Tornga, 62, is married with two adult children. He's president of Capital Data Consulting of Dunedin, a company that provides contract computer programmers. He is running for the first time and said he's ready to help guide and support Dunedin through challenging times while ensuring the continued support of programs that enhance the culture and community. "I want to make sure we make really wise decisions," he said.
Theresa Blackwell can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4170.