Friday, April 20, 2018
Politics

Elections Tuesday in three North Pinellas cities

Voters in three North Pinellas cities will go to the polls Tuesday to choose new leaders.

In Tarpon Springs, voters will also decide whether the city should sell a long-vacant former nursing home to a developer who wants to renovate and reopen it.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Early voting remains in effect through Sunday at Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections offices. To view hours and locations, visit votepinellas.com/?id=8.

Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor residents will choose a mayor and two commissioners in an election marked by controversy over development. Those elected will likely influence the future of the city's Waterfront Park and the property known as the Firmenich Citrus Center.

Mayor Joe Ayoub, 37, an accountant and chief financial officer of a technology company, is being challenged by City Commissioner Nancy Besore, 57, a high school teacher in Hillsborough County, and former Mayor Andy Steingold, 53, an attorney. The winner will serve three years.

Ayoub was endorsed by the Pinellas Realtor Organization, which also contributed to his campaign.

The two open City Commission seats this year are both being contested by newcomers to the Safety Harbor political scene. Since Besore chose to run for mayor and must vacate her Seat 3 even if she loses, two people are running for her seat: Dean Harmeson, 41, a defense consultant, and Andy Zodrow, 44, an environmental attorney with Hillsborough County. The winner will serve the remaining one year of Besore's term.

Zodrow has been endorsed by the city's firefighters union.

Commissioner Nina Bandoni chose not to run for re-election to Seat 4, and two people are seeking to replace her: Carlos Diaz, 49, who owns his own business consulting company, and Ray Irvin, 67, a retired public servant in Indianapolis and now the owner of a boat-inspection company. The winner will serve a full three-year term.

Irvin has been endorsed by the firefighters union. Diaz has been endorsed by the Pinellas Realtor Organization and the Florida Leadership Committee.

All winners will be sworn in at the April 7 commission meeting.

To watch a video of the city candidate forum, go to the city website, cityofsafetyharbor.com.

Clearwater

Clearwater has two City Council seats up for grabs. Seat 4 incumbent Bill Jonson, 69, a retired Honeywell project manager, drew two challengers: David Allbritton, 63, a contractor and former chairman of the Downtown Development Board, and Konrad McCree, 29, a business analyst and minister.

Jonson has appealed to voters to trust his experience, while Allbritton and McCree, who are making their first runs for office, say a fresh perspective is needed on the council.

In the Seat 5 race, former council member Hoyt Hamilton, 55, who helps run the family-owned Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach, and Army veteran Jon-Paul Rosa, 30, a student at St. Petersburg College who has worked as a Department of Defense contractor, are seeking the seat being vacated by term-limited Paul Gibson.

Rosa, who switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in August, has received $10,500 from the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee. That prompted Hamilton, a registered Republican, to accuse Rosa of bringing partisan politics into a nonpartisan city race.

Rosa, a first-time candidate, said he took the money to spread his message and help with name recognition.

Allbritton and Hamilton have been endorsed by the city fire and police unions, Pinellas Realtors and the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce. Rosa and McCree have been endorsed by the labor union that represents most city workers and the West Central Florida Federation of Labor, an AFL-CIO central labor council for the 12-county Tampa Bay area.

To view the Feb. 14 city candidate forum, visit myclearwater.com. Click on the "Streaming Video" tab and then click "Special Meetings."

The positions are for four years and are elected citywide.

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs voters will choose a new city commissioner from among three candidates.

They'll also be asked to approve the sale of a vacant, dilapidated former nursing home that the city owns on Walton Avenue. The prospective buyer plans to renovate it and open a 100-bed assisted living facility there.

The City Commission candidates are:

• Chris Hrabovsky, 44, a political activist who works as a hypnotist. He has been commenting at commission meetings for eight years and is best-known for rallying opposition to a proposed Walmart supercenter on the banks of the Anclote River.

• Joe Muzio, 62, a Realtor who ran unsuccessfully for a commission seat in 2010. He's a veteran and a former executive at HSN, formerly Home Shopping Network, and he's been on the board of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce.

• Rea Sieber, 61, a Sponge Docks business owner who heads the Tarpon Springs Merchant Association. She's on the city's budget advisory committee and its tourism council.

They are all seeking Seat 2, held by term-limited Commissioner Susan Slattery. The winner will serve a three-year term. Commissioners earn $8,000 annually.

Commissioner Townsend Tarapani retained Seat 1 when no one filed to run against him.

Sieber was recruited by Slattery to run. She's been endorsed by Tarpon's firefighter and police unions. At political forums she speaks in generalities, touching on a wide variety of issues.

Muzio focuses on stimulating economic growth and wants to rekindle Tarpon's relationships with developers and investors.

Hrabovsky envisions an atypical and ambitious role for city government in taking on big-picture issues like foreclosures, flood insurance and utility bills. He wants Tarpon to look into running its own power company.

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