BELLEAIR BEACH — The March mayoral race here will come down to a battle between two sitting council members who have differing visions of how the city should be run.
Kathy Mortensen, 65, and Stan Sofer, 68, are vying for the post retiring Mayor Lynn Rives leaves open.
Both are long-term members of the City Council and say they support the current city manager form of government.
But Sofer appears to be more willing to "tweak" how the city functions day to day, while Mortensen is primarily concerned with dealing with long-term financial planning so that the city has sufficient money to meet its needs in the future.
Mortensen, a five-year veteran of the council, previously served as vice mayor. She owned a veterinary medicine reference laboratory in Largo until she retired in 1998.
"I feel the city needs to continue in the direction it has since we changed to a city manager form of government," says Mortensen, who describes herself as an "independent" thinker.
She said she is not beholden to any special interests in the city and is not accepting any political donations.
Sofer, who has served on the council for more than seven years, says that if elected mayor, he wants to bring back council committees that were disbanded after the appointment of a city manager.
"The committees give us the ability to know about the city and how it runs. I see them as complementary to the city manager, city clerk and financial officer and would be a tremendous help to them," he says.
Sofer says he has ideas on increasing revenues and cutting spending, but that it is "too early" to make them public.
He owns Cody's Original Roadhouse in Belleair Bluffs and a financial consulting business, XXI Management LLC.
Meanwhile, there will be no election for the three open seats on the council, now filled by retiring Vice Mayor Bob Baldwin, who is not running for re-election, and the seats now filled by Mortensen and Sofer.
Political newcomers Jeril Cohen, 68, John Pietrowski, 60, and Wanda Schwerer, 61, will be automatically sworn in as council members after the March election. The three qualified without opposition.