OLDSMAR — Three newcomers are running for City Council Seat 3 in the city election March 12.
The elected candidate will serve the two years remaining in the term of council member Doug Bevis, who ran unopposed for mayor.
The last day to register to vote in the election is Feb. 11. On Feb. 12, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office will begin sending out mail ballots to Oldsmar residents who requested them.
Oldsmar, meet your candidates:
• Gabby McGee, 26, works in sales, marketing and information technology at Cisco Systems Inc.
She moved to Oldsmar five years ago, when she bought her first home: a 1918 bungalow on Buckingham Avenue W. She said she has attended City Council meetings ever since.
McGee renovated the two-story house, replacing the kitchen and bathrooms, and found an enduring passion. She now leads Oldsmar historical walks and gives tours of her home, which she shares with her boyfriend, Nick, and Shar Pei-Labrador mix, Remi. In her spare time, she writes building descriptions and snaps photos of homes older than 60 years around Oldsmar.
She told the City Council in 2007 that she'd like to earn Oldsmar a historic district nomination from the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources.
"You are never too young or too old to make an impact in your community," she said.
McGee, who grew up in Palm Harbor and studied finance at the University of Tampa, also independently prepares business site proposals to recruit retailers like Trader Joe's and DSW. It's a weekend hobby, she said, to let national chains know "Oldsmar is open for business."
A member of the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee, Oldsmar Historical Society and Oldsmar Women's Club, McGee was formally endorsed by the Palm Harbor and Oldsmar firefighters. She has attended City Council meetings since 2007.
Her goals if elected: Attract more businesses by pitching vacant spaces to national retailers. Work with council members to create a more pedestrian-friendly community. Preserve the city's history and identity. Increase interactions between city officials and residents using a city-funded "MindMixer" account — a "virtual city hall" website also used by Tampa.
• Dan Saracki, 53, owns Impact Grafx Inc. on Oakleaf Boulevard with his wife, Paula.
Saracki left his native Buffalo, N.Y., 18 years ago for Oldsmar, seeking sunshine and a quick drive to Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Lightning games. He said he has attended City Council meetings since 2011.
Saracki is the president of the Eastlake Oaks Homeowners Association, where he said he has balanced the neighborhood's budget and organized annual block parties since 2009. He serves on the Eastlake Oaks Community Development District board.
Saracki envisions a tighter-knit Oldsmar — an "everyone knows your name" city. He created Oldsmarplace.com, where neighbors can read his newsletters, browse event photos and leave suggestions.
"I just love getting everyone outside, seeing the kids' faces," he said. "It's important to me that our community can come together."
Saracki — a member of the Oldsmar Historical Society, the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and the International Council of Shopping Centers — has designed logos and advertisements for Oldsmar Cares and the Oldsmar Organic Community Garden. He is a member of Toastmasters International.
His goals if he is elected include attracting more retailers and housing developments with his business savvy and contacts. He also wants to push to expand recycling services to commercial users and encourage community involvement and civic pride.
• Suda Yantiss-Colón, 50, runs sudaGraphics and Weddings by Suda from her home office on Arlington Avenue E. She previously served as vice president for KBS Exports, which shipped Detroit-made auto parts from Oldsmar to Venezuela.
Yantiss-Colón has lived in Oldsmar for 25 years and attended council meetings for about 15. She married her husband, Hector Colón, at the Oldsmar Community United Methodist Church, where she sings in the choir.
Yantiss-Colón teaches ballet, jazz, tap and salsa at the Cypress Forest Recreation Center. She has volunteered for the Oldsmar Garden Club, Leisure Services Board, Cultural Arts Foundation and Cultural Affairs Advisory Board.
Yantiss-Colón helped pioneer Art in the Park, an annual festival of dance performances, fine art exhibits and crafts for kids.
She helped raise money for public art around Oldsmar, including the water tower paintings.
"I love giving back," Yantiss-Colón said. "I believe Oldsmar truly is a great place to, as our city motto says, 'live, work and play.' "
Her goals if elected: Invest in youth programs, with a focus on the arts. Further beautify city streets and parks. Plan a year-long bicentennial celebration, tapping her wedding-planning experience. Push to grow the industrial park.
Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.