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Tarpon Springs residents vet candidates in March 9 election for City Commission

TARPON SPRINGS – Rita Witeck wanted to know about the candidates' vision for the city.

Edward Zalewski wanted them to address the collection of tax dollars from sources such as Penny for Pinellas, Bright House and Verizon.

Monday, Witeck, 69, and Zalewski, 90, were among more than 100 residents who came to City Hall and listened to candidates for the Tarpon Commission in the March 9 election.

"I'm not familiar with any of the candidates, and I thought this would be a way to become more familiar," said Witeck, a 35-year Tarpon resident. "My ballot came in the mail yesterday, and I need to get to work (on learning the candidates)."

The forum, sponsored by the city and the League of Women Voters, was the first of several that will be held leading up to the election, in which three seats are up for grabs.

David Archie is running against Matt King for the mayor's seat Beverley Billiris will give up due to term limits. Jeff Larsen faces Joe Muzio for the commission's Seat 3, which Peter Dalacos will vacate, also due to term limits.

Current Commissioner Chris Alahouzos is trying to retain Seat 4; his challenger is Beverly Z. Kurpinski.

Monday night, the six candidates answered several questions that ranged from economic development, to the presence of a Super Walmart in the city, to changes to the city's charter to limit how land can be purchased.

There are nearly 16,000 registered voters in Tarpon and a little more than 6,000 ballots have already been mailed.

David Bolton, 41, listened intently to the candidates' answers. He said he hasn't made up his mind about whom to vote for, but he too is looking for candidates who have "a clear vision for the city."

"I'm trying to see if they are going to have any original ideas or if we are going to get the same regular responses that we usually get from those running for office," said Bolton, a 36-year city resident.

John McHugh, 84, said the forum was useful and it helped him decide whom to cast his vote for.

"They covered a lot of general information," he said. "Most have a feeling of what they should do and presented thoughtful responses. I was impressed."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

Tarpon Springs residents vet candidates in March 9 election for City Commission 02/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 7:36pm]
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