Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs candidates face off at forum

TARPON SPRINGS — One candidate wants Tarpon Springs to take on Duke Energy and possibly start its own power company. Another candidate thinks the city needs to extend an olive branch to real estate developers. A third candidate, seen by some as the front-runner, has a laundry list of city issues she wants to tackle.

The three candidates for a Tarpon Springs City Commission seat are taking to the campaign trail with dramatically different ideas about the role of city government.

That became clear Monday night at a forum held by the Greater Tarpon Springs Democratic Club. There, the contenders in the March 11 election took questions from a crowd of about 40 people at the Tarpon Springs Community Center.

The candidates — Chris Hrabovsky, Joe Muzio and Rea Sieber — are running for Seat 2, held by term-limited Commissioner Susan Slattery.

For her part, Slattery is supporting Sieber. In fact, she recruited Sieber to run for the seat she's vacating. Sieber, 61, is the race's closest thing to an establishment candidate. She heads the Tarpon Springs Merchant Association and serves on the city's budget advisory committee and its tourism council. She's been endorsed by the city's firefighter and police unions.

A Sponge Docks business owner and former Tarpon Springs High School guidance counselor, Sieber tells voters that her listening skills and work ethic make her the best choice.

At political forums she tends to speak in generalities, touching briefly on a wide variety of issues — economic development, "smart growth," fixing up Tarpon's infrastructure, and streamlining government through random audits of city departments.

"Different people have different concerns," she said. "There are several issues in our residents' minds."

Then there is Hrabovsky, 44, a political and environmental activist in Tarpon Springs. He has been commenting at City Commission meetings for eight years and is best-known for successfully rallying opposition to a proposed Walmart supercenter on the banks of the Anclote River.

A hypnotist in private practice, Hrabovsky helps treat veterans who have PTSD. He envisions an ambitious role for city government in taking on big-picture issues like foreclosures, flood insurance and power bills.

Outraged by Duke Energy charging Florida customers $1.5 billion for a nuclear plant it will never build, Hrabovsky wants Tarpon Springs to look into running its own electric company or switching to TECO Energy. "My plan to take on Duke Energy is a real plan," he said. To those who question how realistic this is, he responds, "I was told we couldn't beat Walmart. Guess what? We beat them — badly."

The third candidate, Muzio, is a 62-year-old Realtor who ran for a commission seat in 2010. He has been a U.S. Army lieutenant and an executive at HSN, formerly Home Shopping Network, and says his business experience and military leadership set him apart. He's been on the board of the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce, and he talks of stimulating economic growth. "The U.S. 19 corridor has been forgotten for many years," he said.

"I want to rekindle relationships with developers and investors," Muzio added, recalling that a member of the city's Planning and Zoning Board called one developer a "carpetbagger" at a board hearing two years ago.

A longtime volunteer at Florida Hospital North Pinellas (formerly Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital), Muzio said he was sidelined by an illness over part of the past year. "My illness is gone, I have a clean bill of health, and God has given me a second chance," he said.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to

Tarpon Springs candidates

• Chris Hrabovsky:

• Joe Muzio:

• Rea Sieber:

Tarpon Springs candidates face off at forum 02/11/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal


    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]

  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.