Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chamber of commerce forum hosts two Largo City Commission candidates

LARGO — The sign in the hallway listed Wednesday's schedule at the Royal Palms retirement community: morning stretch at 10 a.m., followed by mahjong and poker at 1 p.m., a "mix and mingle" at 1:30 p.m., and a 7 p.m. showing of the movie Dolphin Tale.

There was one event not on that sign, though. Just before 8 a.m., a crowd of about 50 gathered to hear the two candidates for Largo's lone City Commission race explain why they deserve the job. Election Day is Nov. 6, and Wednesday's candidate forum was the only scheduled event for voters to hear both Robert Hunsicker and James Robinson give their sales pitches.

Commission seats are elected citywide and are nonpartisan. Hunsicker and Robinson are running for Seat 4, which is being vacated by Commissioner Gigi Arntzen, who has served since 2006. The winner will serve a four-year term and make $13,125 per year.

The Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce organized the forum, which was videotaped and is scheduled to be posted on the city's website, largo.com. .

Hunsicker, 69, called himself a fiscal conservative who would use his skills as a semiretired electrical engineer to create efficiencies in city operations. Robinson, 35, pitched himself as a humble everyman who would try to restore public safety staffing but basically approves of the job the current commission is doing.

Hunsicker said he'd look for money to add firefighters and police officers. He suggested leasing the Largo Golf Course to a private management company and soliciting sponsors for city properties (he mentioned the "Pinch A Penny Community Center" and the "Publix Cultural Center" as hypotheticals).

Robinson also talked about increasing fire and police staffing, and mentioned his experience as manager of Largo Feed & Pet Supply as good preparation for a spot on the City Commission.

"I have no lofty ambitions for a political career," Robinson said. "I simply want to help the city I love live up to its greatest potential."

The forum's tone was cordial. Neither candidate criticized or even mentioned the other. Their answers differed most when they were asked by chamber president Tom Morrissette, who moderated the forum, about the job city management is doing to spur business development.

"I believe the city is doing as much as it can," Robinson said. "I think they're doing a good job."

Hunsicker said Largo staffers interfere too much with small businesses and need to loosen restrictions, like the city's long-discussed sign ordinance.

"Sometimes the best thing government can do is just get out of the way," he said.

The men also didn't agree on a proposed domestic partnership registry, which is modeled after ordinances adopted in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater that grant rights normally reserved for marriage to unmarried couples.

Hunsicker said he'd want a legal opinion first. The commission has asked city attorney Alan Zimmet for a legal opinion on the proposed registry. Hunsicker also said that he felt this was an issue for the Florida Legislature or Pinellas County Commission, not for a city commission.

Robinson supports the registry and said his mother-in-law and her boyfriend live in Tampa and plan to register as domestic partners there.

In their closing statements, the men summarized their opening sales pitches.

Hunsicker: "I've got a lot of training, a lot of experience and I think I could really make a difference."

Robinson: "I'm trying to help out the community . . . I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm the greatest thing ever. I'm just a regular kid from Largo."

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@tampabay.com.

Chamber of commerce forum hosts two Largo City Commission candidates 09/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]