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Meet the candidates for Seminole City Council

Seminole City Council

Seven candidates are running for the two open seats in Seminole's March 9 election. The two top vote-getters will take office. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although many people have already voted by mail. The Pinellas County supervisor of elections sent out 5,566 ballots to Seminole and, by Friday, 1,294 had been returned for a 23.7 percent turnout so far.

The job: Seminole has a council-manager form of government that provides for daily management by a council-appointed city manager. The seven-member council, which includes the mayor, is responsible for policy issues and the budget. The six council members serve three-year terms and are paid $5,562 a year. The top two vote-getters in the March 9 election will win seats. Why you? Three biggest issues Consolidation of fire/EMS Seminole Mall
Thomas "Thom" Barnhorn, 54

Background: He was born in St. Louis and moved to Seminole in 1974. He graduated from Dunedin High School and St. Petersburg Junior College. He received a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of South Florida. He is a financial adviser at Edward Jones Investments. He is married and has one daughter and two grandchildren.

Qualifications: He served on the Seminole City Council from 2006 to 2009. He was vice mayor from 2008 to 2009. He lost his re-election bid last March but was appointed to an open seat in May. He is a member of the Seminole Kiwanis Club, the Seminole Lions Club, the Knights of Columbus and the University of South Florida Alumni Association and is a former member of the Seminole Music in the Park committee. He is chairman of the board of the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research.

Sources of income: Salary from Edward Jones, council salary

Assets: Home, mutual fund

Debts: Mortgage

Amount raised: $3,155

"I bring experience. I love my city and I want to keep it the way it is." He said he thinks the city has been fiscally responsible. He wants to be part of the way the city grows. Helping residents suffering from the economic downturn, researching economic development to find a way to make Seminole businesses thrive again, and finding a way to make the city grow so it has additional income. "I believe EMS should be consolidated. I believe the fire department could handle (all) EMS." He is not generally in favor of consolidating the fire departments, however, because he says the bigger bureaucracy and politics would hurt services. The mall is unsustainable in its current configuration. "They just are air conditioning a space for the seniors to walk around in, and when they go home, it's empty." He envisions an outdoor mall — like the Shoppes at Park Place — with three distinct areas: entertainment and restaurants, major stores and specialty shops.
Christopher Burke, 45

Background: He was born in Massachusetts and moved to Florida in 1979. He graduated from Seminole High School, enlisted in the Army and served 10 years in the Army Reserve. He joined the Largo Police Department in 1989. He is the school resource officer at Largo Middle School. He has a liberal arts degree from St. Petersburg College and a bachelor's in history from the University of South Florida. He is a Gulf War veteran and was named the state's school resource officer of the year in 2006. He is married and has two daughters.

Qualifications: He is a past president of the Blessed Sacrament School Advisory Association and of the Quail Ridge Homeowners Association. He had a stint as a retail manager with Camelot Music.

Source of income: Salary Assets: Stocks Debts: Bank of America

Amount raised: $200

"I think I can bring a fresh set of ideas to the city of Seminole." Budget, growth and redevelopment of downtown Seminole. Seminole needs to be a destination city. "On the face of it, I don't know that it would be a good thing." It's not good for cities to have no say over the fire departments in their municipality, he says. "I'd like to see Seminole Mall redeveloped into a destination" that combines retail and housing. He would be willing to give tax credits.
Thomas J. Christy, 58

Background: Born in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, he has an associate's degree in business management from Bryant and Stratton in Buffalo. He worked in transportation management for Carton Craft Corp. in Buffalo for 30 years. He moved to Seminole in 2005. He is semiretired and is also the security manager for Cove Cay in Clearwater. He is divorced and has four children and two grandchildren.

Qualifications: Served on the Tonawanda, N.Y., City Council from 1990 to 1995. He was co-chair of the Seminole Charter Review Commission. Serves on the board of directors of Building 21 at Seminole Gardens condominiums.

Sources of income: Salary, pension

Assets: Condominium, 401(k)

Debts: Car payment

Amount raised: $752

"I think that I'm probably the most prepared ... most experienced." He has been a regular at council meetings for years and is familiar with the budget. He said serving on the Charter Review Commission gave him an understanding of the city. He also has served on a city council. Economic development, the budget, annexing more properties. "It's inevitable that these things are going to happen down the road. ... Long term, the ideal situation is you should have one police (agency) and one fire." He says he understands that area residents would like an enclosed mall. He would like to see a restaurant, like a TGI Friday's. The city needs to play a more active part in the development.
Arden Ford, 70

Background: He was born and raised on a farm in Michigan. Began farming and working in a garage at age 14. Moved to Florida in 1971. Ran his own gas station in Belleair Bluffs from 1972 to 1978. Opened A-1 Auto Service in Seminole in 1983 and still runs the business. He moved to Seminole 19 years ago. He is divorced with five children and 10 grandchildren.

Qualifications: He is chairman of two boards at Pinellas Technical Education Centers and is the founder of the Local Business Network. He is a member of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, the Seminole Kiwanis Club and Anona Methodist Church.

Source of income: His business, Social Security

Assets: Home, business, stocks, vehicles, other equipment

Debts: Mortgage, auto loan, line of credit

Amount raised: $950

"Common sense. ... I'm not a yes man. I listen to people. I try to do what's right for the residents. ... I've got no ax to grind." Need to make the city larger, the tax rate needs to be increased incrementally each year until it matches the countywide average to prevent a large jump later, giving business people a voice. Fire departments, rather than Sunstar, should transport patients to the hospital. "I like the indoor mall, but those days are gone. ... It needs to be torn down and it needs to be modernized."
Randall Hendricks, 63

Background: He was born in Chicago and moved to Seminole about 35 years ago. He has a bachelor's in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. He has four businesses, mostly managing real estate across Pinellas County. He is a Vietnam veteran. He is married and has four children, six grandchildren and another on the way.

Qualifications: He owns and operates four companies. He is on the board at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.

Primary source of income: Hendricks Enterprises

Assets: Strip shopping center in Seminole; 12 houses in Seminole, St. Petersburg and Largo; 26-unit apartment complex in St. Petersburg, 84 units in Kenneth City, 68 units in Dunedin, 59 units in South Pasadena, 30 units in Pinellas Park, 53 units in Clearwater, 72 units in Seminole; checking account; savings account; money market certificates

Debts: Nine mortgages

Amount raised: $1,595

"I bring a lot of experience. Being in my own business for 35 years, I know how to make hard decisions. I know how to cut corners." Seminole Mall, opening the senior recreation center, getting the fire stations in top shape. "I don't think that the county wants to do that." "It probably has to be knocked down and rejuvenated." The city has to step up and do something, like offer incentives, to make it happen.
James Joseph Quinn, 70

Background: He is a native of the Bronx, N.Y. He moved to Enfield, Conn., after serving in the Navy. He worked for the city of Enfield, begin- ning on a garbage truck and eventually being promoted to highway superintendent with a staff of 55 and a budget of about $3.5 million. After leaving the city's employ, he worked for the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority, a public-private partnership that dealt with recycling and other energy issues. He retired in 2003 and moved to Seminole in 2004. He is widowed and has three surviving children and one grandchild.

Qualifications: He is president of his building and of the men's club at the Seminole Gardens Co-Op Apartment complex. He is past chairman and founder of the Concerned Citizens of Seminole Gardens. He is a member of the American Legion and a blood donor. He says his experience as highway superintendent enables him to understand the fiscal and other issues facing city government.

Source of income: Social Security

Assets: Condominium, annuity Debts: None

Amount raised: $3,884

"Because of what I've accomplished the short period of time I've been in Seminole Gardens." His organization, the Concerned Citizens of Seminole Gardens, has reduced the budget by $300,000 a year. "If it was up to the residents of the community I live in, I'd be the pope." Getting Seminole Mall up and running at full capacity again, maintaining the fiscal health and services of the city. The system should be changed so that only ambulances go to medical emergencies rather than sending both a fire truck and an ambulance. "If it's only a medical emergency, I don't see any need for a fire truck to go out." A Costco or other anchor store like Macy's or JCPenney would be good. "We need that mall. ... I wouldn't want to see condos go up there."
Bill Smith, 43

Background: Born in New Bedford, Mass., he moved to Largo in 1976 and to Seminole in 1989. He has an associate's degree from St. Petersburg College and received a degree in electronics technology from Penn Foster, an online college. He is employed by Progress Energy. He is married and has two sons.

Qualifications: "I qualify in that I'm a resident of Seminole and legally able to run. ... I'm just basically an average citizen." His interest in politics, he says, was sparked by the 2001 terrorist attacks. He wants to bring his beliefs about limited government, individual freedom and the purpose of government (security) to a local level.

Source of income: Salary

Assets: None listed Debts: None listed

Amount raised: $231


Because of his philosophical beliefs about government, including a desire to keep the tax rate low and not enacting rules that infringe on individual freedoms. His belief in security means his priorities are the fire department, police and ambulance services. Keeping taxes low or lowering them further, and deciding what to do with Seminole Mall. "I can't answer it intelligently. I don't know enough about it." Make an open-air mall like Largo Mall.

Meet the candidates for Seminole City Council 02/27/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:53am]
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