PORT RICHEY — Eloise Taylor and Perry Bean often see eye to eye on which issues need to be tackled in Port Richey. But the two mayoral candidates couldn't be further apart on the leadership style each would bring to move the city forward.
They both have discussed spearheading infrastructure upgrades to the city's drainage system to combat flooding, as well as better promotion and development of Port Richey's waterfront. Bean wants an aggressive effort to redevelop U.S. 19, while Taylor has also discussed taking steps to address blight.
Both say the race will come down to whose governing style appeals to voters. Both candidates are known entities, with Taylor serving as mayor from 2000 to 2005 and Bean serving on the City Council from 2008 to 2010.
"I don't think either of us is going to bring anything unknown," Bean said.
Taylor, 70, an attorney, sees herself as the candidate with the ability to get things done through negotiation and compromise with other council members.
"I think I have the respect of everyone on council," she said.
She said Bean would bring a more confrontational style of governing to a city that has turned around its reputation for rancor.
Bean, 46, a technology consultant, acknowledged that he doesn't mince words.
"I'm certainly going to butt heads. There will be some of that," Bean said.
He's also not convinced that the city is any more harmonious these days. Bean said some people have simply given up on speaking out.
Both candidates were key players in dissolution debates that threatened the existence of the city several years ago.
Bean strongly supported efforts to hold a referendum so that residents could decide whether to dissolve the city. Bean lost his seat in 2010 on the same ballot on which voters approved a measure making it harder to dissolve the city.
"People tried to paint it as I was in favor of dissolution. I wasn't," Bean said. "Really, all I wanted to do was let the people decide."
Bean has been critical of a lawsuit Taylor filed on behalf of several residents challenging an ordinance that would have put a dissolution referendum to a vote among residents.
Taylor said she filed that lawsuit because a previous City Council was not following the law. Before a city can dissolve, state law says, it must have a plan for paying off its debts and settling matters with employees. Port Richey had neither when Taylor filed the 2009 lawsuit challenging the plans for a referendum — which was later canceled.
Taylor said city officials now are following the law, and she wants to see that continue.
"I've fought long and hard to bring Port Richey into a city that can be respected," she said.