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Safety Harbor Mayor

This year's mayoral race features three candidates with lots of experience. Incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub is being challenged by five-year City Commissioner Nancy Besore and former Mayor Andy Steingold. The election is March 11. Josh Solomon, Times staff writer

Joe Ayoub, 37

Andy Steingold, 53

Nancy Besore, 57

Experience Before running for mayor unopposed last year when Mayor Andy Steingold resigned early, Ayoub had been a commissioner for five years. As mayor, he serves on the Pinellas Planning Council. He is a CPA and CFO of a technology company. If re-elected, Ayoub said he wants to continue with the plans in place to equip the Waterfront Park with bike paths and sidewalks and make downtown an attractive place for business. Steingold was Safety Harbor's mayor from 2006 to 2013, when he resigned the position to run for circuit judge. Prior to being mayor, Steingold served three years as a commissioner. An attorney and partner at Tampa law firm Maney & Gordon, P.A., Steingold said he is running for mayor because the city "deserves leadership that will do the will of the people" and preserve the city's "small-town charm." Besore is a teacher at Armwood High School in Hillsborough County. She has five years of experience on the City Commission. She is a 2010 and 2011 graduate of the Florida League of Cities Institute for Elected Municipal Officials. She has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction and a law degree. Most passionate about the future of the Firmenich Citrus Center property, Besore said she wants to promote light-industrial development at the site.
EducationUniversity of Florida, bachelor of science in accounting

University of South Florida, master of science in accounting
University of South Florida, bachelor of arts in psychology

Cumberland School of Law, juris doctor
University of South Florida, bachelor of arts in history, master of arts in gerontology, doctorate in curriculum and instruction

Stetson University College of Law, juris doctor
What kind of development do you support at the Waterfront Park, and over what time period?I think our new Waterfront Park is going to be one of Safety Harbor's new focal points that our residents will get to enjoy. Because of the importance of this project I think it needs to be done in a way that reflects the vision of our whole community, which is why my focus will be on executing the plan that our residents have already decided upon through our steering committee, public meetings and online survey.

Last year, under my leadership as mayor, we budgeted $2.25 million with a 5-0 vote to move forward with these improvements this year, which include walking/biking trails, new landscaping and other passive amenities (no parking garage or restaurant) so our residents can begin to enjoy this park now instead of in 10 to 25 years.
I would support the immediate placement of a trail through the park along the bay for public access, a natural kayak launch and beach area, park benches and placement of oaks, palms and other hardy trees that would provide shade to users of the park. Based upon citizens' responses to a city survey as well as input I have received, it is my understanding that most citizens wish to have access and use of the Waterfront Park in its natural state without brick and mortar development. Thus, it would be my intent to carry out the will of the people.

However, over the next 10 to 25 years, subsequent commissions may have further input from the majority of citizens who may wish to proceed with low-impact structure(s), at which time the will of the people should be followed.
I support the use of community redevelopment funds (CRA funds) per the staged development plan, envisioned by the Waterfront Park Advisory Committee. I have consistently heard community support for slow, low-impact progression of park development. I do not have a set time period in mind. I do know that no resident has ever voiced support for an overdesigned, concrete-concentrated rush job that would require taking on a further tax burden.
Has the new garbage pickup program been a success or failure?Our new 1:1:1 sanitation and recycling collection program has been a big success. We have an overall 80-90% satisfaction rate, and the program is just over three months old. So far we have more than doubled our recycling collection, and the amount of garbage we bring to the landfill has decreased by almost 30%, which is great for our environment. We will constantly look for ways to improve the program to meet resident needs and will measure our savings in a couple months with the goal being a rate reduction for our residents.Based upon input I have received from residents while walking door to door, half are satisfied and half wish the city had retained twice-a-week pickup. I believe the program to be successful with regard to the intent for which it was established — cost savings for the city. However, based upon the reduction in garbage pickup services from twice to once per week and the huge cost savings to the city, the garbage pickup fee citizens pay should be reduced accordingly. Based on preliminary data provided the commission by city officials, the new garbage pickup program has met target goals. We are recycling more of our solid waste, and are realizing savings from our efforts. We are hauling less solid waste to the landfill. These preliminary statistics point to a successful program.
Would you rather see industrial or residential development on the Firmenich property?My position was to down-zone this property from industrial to multifamily. A plan we had presented to us would have preserved almost 50% of the property as green space, and every traffic expert that looked at it agreed that it would have less traffic than what the industrial designation allows.

Given that the Pinellas County Commission has recently taken the position that they will not allow this property to be down-zoned, it is now my prerogative to work with the county to find a buyer that will create good jobs and provide a plan that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
I do not believe it matters what I would rather see on that property, but rather what the surrounding community wishes to see on that property. Elected officials are elected to do the will of the majority of their constituents and must balance the developer's interests with the interests of the community. The majority of citizens in the surrounding community were quite clear at both February 2013 City Commission meetings that they preferred light industrial over the proposed apartments.I would rather see light industrial development on the Firmenich property. I have spent the past two years serving as an outspoken advocate for residents committed to preservation of current industrial zoning on the Firmenich property. The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) concurred with this passion in two unanimous decisions. I agree with the BCC's resolve in preserving Pinellas County's scarce light-industrial parcels, and applaud their encouragement of light-industrial land use as critical in job creation for Pinellas County.
If you are elected, name one issue or project you want to tackle immediately.If re-elected as your mayor, I will be committed to moving forward with the new Waterfront Park behind the Safety Harbor Spa. Our residents have been clear about what kind of park they want and when they want it, so I think it is our job as leaders to carry out the wishes of our community within the context of a balanced budget, and that is exactly what I intend to do if I have the honor of serving another term as the mayor of Safety Harbor.I have proposed moving forward with the Safety Harbor Preservation Act, which was previously provided to the Tampa Bay Times. I believe that it is imperative that "small-town charm" be defined properly and that the commission move in the direction of assuring its residents that it will endeavor to preserve Safety Harbor's small-town charm consistent with the Safety Harbor Preservation Act presently and for generations to come.If elected, I wish to work with city officials and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office to offer creative solutions to logistical issues involved in moving people to and from events, while still preserving resident and emergency vehicle mobility. I think we could use the Jolley Trolley and city recreation department vehicles to meet these challenges, as is done in larger cities for huge-draw events. A tandem issue of importance to me is enhanced communication of road closings, etc., involved in offering events such as road races.
LiabilitiesHome mortgageHome mortgageHome mortgage, car loan, student loans
Source of IncomeAccountant and CFO, Data Blue, LLC

Accountant, JS Ayoub & Associates

Mayor, city of Safety Harbor
Attorney and partner, Maney & Gordon, P.A.Teacher, Hillsborough County Schools

Commissioner, city of Safety Harbor
PersonalSingle, no childrenMarried, three childrenSingle, no children

About the job: The mayor serves a three-year term and is paid $9,347.40 per year.

Safety Harbor mayoral candidates for March 11 special election

Safety Harbor mayoral candidates for March 11 special election 02/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 11:09am]
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