Sunday, May 20, 2018
Politics

Election day Tuesday for beach communities

Nineteen candidates will be vying for elective office Tuesday in five beach communities. Here are the towns and cities where voters will choose among the candidates:

Indian Shores

Three candidates are vying citywide for the council seats vacated by retiring council members Carole Irelan and Steve Sutch. The top two vote-getters will serve three year-terms at a monthly salary of $600.

Mike Petruccelli, 68, is a licensed broker associate at Plumlee Gulf Beach Realty where he says he has learned to "find common ground" among people. He has lived in the town since 1996 and serves on the Police Pension Board, as well as volunteers for many town activities. If elected, he hopes to be a voice against higher density growth and an "honest steward of the town's tax money."

Diantha Schear, 68, is a retired electronic commerce project manager from Lockheed Martin, and is on the town's Board of Adjustment. She has lived in Indian Shores six years and is particularly concerned about continued flooding along Gulf Boulevard and the impact of rising flood insurance premiums on residents. If elected, she says she wants to cooperate with other council members "to act in the best interests of the town."

Pat Soranno, 70, a retired senior executive with Travelers Insurance and management consultant, has lived in town since 1999 and assisted a prior council with reviewing the town's organizational structure and suggesting efficiencies. If elected, he wants to work on what he calls the "800-pound gorilla — rising flood insurance premiums," as well as finding solutions to Gulf Boulevard drainage.

Madeira Beach

Four candidates are contesting the mayoral post and one open commission seat. The mayor will serve a three-year term and the commissioner a two-year term at monthly salaries of $600 and $400, respectively.

Incumbent Mayor Travis Palladeno is being challenged by Dr. Victor Cucaro, while District 2 Commissioner Nancy Hodges is opposed by William Wright.

District 1 Commissioner Terry Lister drew no opposition and is automatically being returned to office.

Palladeno, 49, a charter boat captain and business owner, has lived in Madeira Beach since 1999 and was elected mayor in 2011. He defends his record of leading the city, hiring a city manager, improving its infrastructure, and the city is now about to build a new City Hall and recreational complex that he says will both increase revenues and position the city for a vibrant future.

Cucaro, 77, a doctor of alternative medicine, native of Argentina and longtime city resident, has been vocal in his opposition to the commission's decision to spend millions of dollars on a new municipal complex, as well as previous investments at the city's marina.

Hodges, 64, served on the city's Planning Board, and was elected in 2012 with no opposition. She wants to continue on the commission to see through projects on the books — particularly the rebuilding of the City Hall, fire station and recreational complex.

Wright, 52, is senior vice commander of VFW Post 4256 in Madeira Beach and describes himself as "independently wealthy." He has not served on any city boards and has criticized the commission for not communicating more effectively with voters during discussions about the municipal complex.

Redington Shores

Incumbent Casey Wojcik will face challenger Mary Beth Henderson to represent District 3 voters for the next two years at a monthly salary of $650.

The district was redrawn several years ago to include the Redington Towers condominiums. Both candidates are focusing their efforts on gaining support from condominium residents.

Henderson, 47, a Realtor, moved to the town in 2012, and is eager to bring "new blood, a new vision and better communications" to the town's government. Most recently she fought a proposal to create a skateboarding park. She argues that she can better serve the people living in her district and ensure that non-voting property owner voices are heard.

Wojcik, 72, a project manager at JPMorgan Chase, has served eight years on the Town Commission as both the finance and public works commissioner. He has lived in town for 17 years. If elected to another term, he wants to ensure the town's new nuisance ordinance is enforced, as well as ensure issues facing condominium owners are brought to the commission.

South Pasadena

Two commission seats are up for election. Voters citywide will pick the top two of four candidates to serve for three-year terms on the council at a monthly salary of $511.34.

Two incumbents, Max Elson and Arthur Penny, are being challenged by two first-time candidates, Harris Blair and Robert Small.

The major issue among them appears to be differing visions of the city's growth.

Blair, 77, is a retired Tampa Bay Rays supervisor running on a platform of making the city safe and encouraging business beautification through grants. He also wants to work to bring in new business to the city, bury utilities along Pasadena Avenue and install a traffic light at the accident-prone Bay Island intersection.

Elson, 71, is a retired business owner and consultant who wants to continue the work he started in his first term in office — in particular ensuring that the city's recent economic growth continues. He says the city's proposed comprehensive plan would allow small, but not resort-style hotels.

Penny, 55, who has served on the council for four years, hopes voters will return him to office to provide the city with stability and to provide a voice for condominium owners who represent about 75 percent of the residents. He is opposed to higher property taxes and favors using grants to beautify the city.

Small, 63, is a semiretired international singer, who is strongly opposed to changing traffic lanes on Pasadena Avenue and wants council meetings to be friendlier. He also wants the city to encourage local businesses to update their properties through a city matching grant program.

Both Elson and Penny adamantly deny that they have ever voted to reduce the number of lanes on Pasadena Avenue while Blair and Small are concerned that a draft plan to do just that could be revived. Elson says the city could never change the number of lanes because it is a state road.

St. Pete Beach

Two candidates are seeking voter support to become the city's next mayor, while four candidates are vying for two open seats on the commission. The mayoral post is paid $675 a month over a three-year term and commissioners are paid $450 a month for two-year terms.

Incumbent Mayor Steve McFarlin is being challenged by resident Maria Lowe. District 1 Commissioner Lorraine Huhn is defending her seat against challenger Terri Finnerty, while two newcomers, James Anderson and Gregory Premer, are vying for the seat vacated by retired Commissioner Marvin Shavlan.

Lowe, 37, a disabled veteran who served in Afghanistan and is a West Point graduate, moved to the city 16 months ago and serves on the city's Historic Preservation Board. Lowe supports most of the current commission's actions and says her background enables her to help the commission find "win-win" solutions for the issues dividing the city. She says she will work with hotel owners in supporting tourism in the city.

McFarlin, 57, a retired automotive executive, has lived in the city for 19 years and is seeking his second term as mayor. He points to his accomplishments, including a pending proposal for a "complete revamping" of the city's downtown area, switching to the Sheriff's Office for law enforcement, and "holding firm" on implementation of a comprehensive plan he said will "enhance redevelopment."

Finnerty, 68, a business consultant and the wife of former mayor Mike Finnerty, is vice president of St. Pete Beach Support Our Troops. She supports the comprehensive plan and the couplet traffic proposal for the Corey Avenue area. She says her experience as a college-level educator and her business and consulting skills will make her a strong commissioner.

Huhn, 83, a long-time city activist and retired teacher, has lived in the city for 28 years and is seeking her second term on the commission. She belongs to a number of civic groups, including the Yacht and Tennis Club. She hopes to be re-elected to continue her support of the comprehensive plan, as well as work to improve public safety, encourage redevelopment and protect residential and business investments.

Anderson, 56, is a retired firefighter and paramedic who has lived in the city for more than eight years. He is Phi Beta Kappa and chairman of the Tampa Bay Spasmodic Dysphonia Support Group. Anderson, who has sued the city several times over issues relating to the Comprehensive Plan, wants the city to perform a number of infrastructure studies before implementing any major new redevelopment, including updating the city's aging sewer system.

Premer, 56, who has lived in the city for 21 years, sells sports scoreboard, video and LED displays. He is vice president and former president of the Belle Vista Civic Association and serves on the city's Recreation Board. Premer supports the city's comprehensive plan and the actions taken by the current commission. He pledges to compromise and negotiate issues facing the commission.

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