PORT RICHEY — In Tuesday's election for an open City Council seat, the battle lines are clearly drawn for the city's 1,900 registered voters.
Pro-dissolution candidate Amy Scott faces Bill Colombo, who opposes dissolving the city of 3,200.
Both are political newcomers who hope to win the seat held by Vice Mayor Mark Hashim, who decided not to seek re-election.
Mayor Richard Rober, who was also up for re-election, will automatically regain his seat because no one challenged him.
With an upcoming referendum that will allow voters to decide whether they want to dissolve the city, choosing adequate leadership on the council is crucial.
The council seat Scott and Colombo are seeking is the swing vote that divides the council on the issue of dissolution.
Here's a look at the candidates:
Scott, 46, is a financial consultant who owns a small boat-building business with her husband.
She is a Vermont native who moved to Port Richey five years ago. She has served as a campaign treasurer for City Council members Phil Abts and Perry Bean, who both support giving residents the right to vote on dissolution.
Scott was part of a committee that circulated a petition this year to dissolve the city. It's a move Scott says could save money for residents, who pay taxes to both the city and Pasco County government.
Scott has been vocal about voting on dissolution at council meetings, and sits on the city's review committee for the comprehensive land use plan.
If elected, Scott says she plans to closely watch the city's spending and consider longer term limits — extending them from two years to three — for council members.
Before Scott moved into the city, Pasco deputies arrested her in 1995 on a DUI charge. She was convicted of a lesser charge, reckless driving, and her license was suspended for a week.
Scott declined to comment on the incident.
Scott says the election is a contentious one because of the upcoming referendum on dissolution.
"I would like to impress upon the voters that their vote really does count in Port Richey," Scott said. "And this is a very high-profile and emotional election, because I support the referendum and Mr. Colombo and his gang will try to kill it."
Colombo, 52, is director of physical plant services for a Palm Harbor retirement center.
The New Jersey native has lived in the city for four years, but has not been involved in local government.
If elected, Colombo said he plans to bring a more professional presence to the often-divided council.
"You have a clear distinction between Amy and myself," Colombo said. "I am a pro-city guy. My basic premise is to bring a professional presence to the council and get away from the divisiveness."
Before moving to Port Richey, Colombo was charged with three DUIs between 1981 and 1998, records show, resulting in his license being suspended for seven years.
"You make mistakes, learn from them and move on," Colombo said.
Camille C. Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4609.