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Pinellas County Commission, District 4

County Commission | District 4

Seven Republicans are vying to fill the District 4 seat being vacated by Susan Latvala, who decided not to run again after holding the seat since 2000. The winner will face a Democrat and two no party candidates in the general election. District 4 includes Safety Harbor, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, East Lake, Tarpon Springs and Oldsmar. Only registered Republicans in the district can vote in this primary. Tony Marrero, Times staff writer

 

Dave Eggers, 57

 

Real estate broker, mayor of Dunedin

Johnny Johnson, 58

 

Retired dentist

Tim Keffalas, 59

 

Owner, graphic design firm

Wanda Kimsey, 59

 

Retired administrative assistant

Experience Eggers has owned Centerpointe Realty, a commercial real estate brokerage firm in Dunedin, since 1988. He was elected to the Dunedin City Commission in 2003, re-elected without opposition in 2006, elected mayor in 2009 and re-elected in 2012. He serves on the county Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Pinellas Planning Council. Johnson has had a pediatric dental practice in Palm Harbor since 1985. He stopped treating patients in 2009 after a bicycling crash injured his wrist. This is his first bid for political office, but he made a name for himself in local political circles as an outspoken fluoride proponent during the debate about whether to include it in the county water supply. Keffalas owns Automotive Expressions, a small automotive graphics and digital imprinting business. He served as executive director of the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority from 1994 to 1996. He has made two unsuccessful bids for Tarpon Springs City Commission, once in 2011 and again 2013. Kimsey worked for the county for 34 years, 30 of those as an administrative assistant to the County Commission. From 1997 to 2004, she worked as the meeting agenda coordinator for the county administrator and retired in 2008. She currently works part time as a student support specialist at St. Petersburg College. This is her first bid for political office.
Education Bachelor's degree in engineering from Duke University, master's of business administration from the University of Pittsburgh Bachelor of arts from the University of South Florida, doctor of dental medicine from the University of Florida, master's in pediatric dentistry from the University of North Carolina Associate's degree in accounting from Butler (Pa.) Community College, bachelor's in business management from Eckerd College Associate's degree from St. Petersburg College; currently pursuing a bachelor's in public policy and administration at SPC
Why should voters pick you in this race? "I have a proven track record of success in business and public service, focusing on our core responsibilities of public safety, infrastructure enhancement and economic development and a real interest in veterans, seniors, kids and those less fortunate. I helped create public safety and social services committees in Dunedin. My close relationships with the county's mayors and working relationships with the north county mayors have been and will be critical advantages in getting more efficient, effective and responsive government for our residents." "I found a new public voice that I never knew I had when the Board of County Commissioners decided to cease community water fluoridation in October 2011. I am a successful small businessman who grew a startup business to the largest practice in north Pinellas over the last 30 years. I have the time, passion, energy and ability to be a leader and consensus builder for our county's needs. I will bring my time, talents and business acumen to our county and use sensible decisionmaking processes for the future of our families." "I have refused to seek or accept political action committee money, which will make me more independent and unbiased in issues coming before the commission. My decisions will be based on the voters' needs and taxpayers' interest." "Having worked 30 years for two Pinellas County commissioners and three Pinellas county administrators, no other candidate has my distinct work history and firsthand experience of listening and responding to the concerns of residents. Improving communications among residents, businesses and governmental agencies is a priority of mine. I will improve communications by holding monthly 'Chats With Wanda' throughout the communities to ensure the public has opportunities to express their views and ask questions about issues."
Do you support or oppose the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum? "Cautious supporter. We need a more viable public transportation system for our residents, our tourists and businesses today, and perhaps as importantly, we need a plan that makes viable sense to our next generation of residents and businesses looking to relocate to the Tampa Bay area. The baby boomers coming to Florida and the seniors we already have here are going to be depending on a better transit system." "I respect the years of work that resulted in the Greenlight Pinellas plan, and as a citizen I support it. At the same time, as a future commissioner, I will be sternly committed to holding PSTA fully accountable for every tax dollar they spend to ensure the citizens of Pinellas County benefit as promised. If Greenlight Pinellas was merely about buses and trains, I would not support it. We must transform this region into a 'community of the future.' I believe this plan will foster needed redevelopment, attract new employers and ultimately expand our tax base, which should stabilize or reduce our property taxes." Oppose. "If it passes I will strive to make sure that before money is spent, I will seek to improve public transportation in the areas designated as the five most impoverished areas of Pinellas County, then I will seek to have further public input. The current county commissioners have not had a great history of fulfilling obligations established by referendums and I am concerned that they will interpret according to their needs once again." Oppose. "Personally, I do not believe the current proposal is the best plan for providing transportation improvements, especially in northern Pinellas. If the Greenlight Pinellas plan is approved, I will work to ensure it is successfully implemented."
Do you support the continued operation of Safe Harbor? What are the next steps for addressing homelessness? "I absolutely support the continuation of Safe Harbor and would work to get cities on board with investing in their community by investing 'outside' of their community. In addition, there needs to be a continued commitment to advancing the esteem, the health and skill sets of individuals and families allowing them a way to get back into normal home life and employment." "Strongly support. We must continue to offer struggling families a hand up from their dire situations. I would work to gain consensus among the public and private sectors on best practices and outcomes to serve our homeless population. We need to draw upon state and federal monies as much as possible. We must reach back out to our cities to gain their support and contributions." "Support. I think it's a worthwhile cause. I would much rather see a sales tax to help resolve homelessness than to expand public transportation. Unfortunately, the homeless have a small voice and those supporting the Greenlight referendum have a big voice. I think there needs to be some other outlets for helping the people as well, not only in housing but emotionally and with other issues." "Support. One next step would be to work on obtaining additional funding from the municipalities to reduce some of the costs borne by the Sheriff's Office. Also, continue to work closely with the Homeless Leadership Board and the partners."
What are the top three areas the county should begin to reinvest in as the economy recovers? Public safety; infrastructure/redevelopment; and homelessness Infrastructure; health and human services; and maintenance and management of parks and preserves "We should hold the line until we pay down some debt and see if the economy is stabilized. I do not want massive changes in spending but I believe we need to review all departments and work within budgets." Expand staffing at traffic control center to operate 24/7; enhance service in departments that have been cut, such as parks and code enforcement; review funds and reserves to bolster areas such as Veterans Services
Income, assets Real estate business income; city of Dunedin salary; pension; home; retirement account; vehicles Business income, Social Security and disability payments; home; art; annuity funds; dental office, other real estate Business income; homes; retirement account; out-of-state mineral rights; certificates of deposit SPC income; pension; home
Liabilities Mortgage Line of credit, car loan Mortgage Mortgage, home equity loan, car loan
Personal Married, two children, lives in Dunedin Married, two children, lives in Tarpon Springs Married, one child, lives in Tarpon Springs Married, lives in unincorporated Tarpon Springs
Website, email daveeggersforpinellas.com, deggers111@gmail.com votejohnnyjohnson.com, drjohnnyjohnson@gmail.com No website, timkefallascampaign@gmail.com votewandakimsey.com, wanda@votewanda kimsey.com

Macho Liberti, 35 Firefighter/emergency medical technician Peter Nehr, 62

 

Owner, medical supply courier company

Jim Ronecker, 49

 

Owner, printing company

Experience Liberti worked as a firefighter for the city of Belleair from 2003 until 2009, when the city began to contract with the city of Largo for fire protection. He has been employed since then by the city of Largo as a firefighter and EMT. This is his first attempt at political office. He is a former secretary/treasurer and political chairman for the Largo Professional Firefighters. Nehr opened Code Red Courier, a medical supply business, this year. He served as a city commissioner in Tarpon Springs for four years, and served six years in the state House before losing his bid for a fourth term in 2012. As a legislator, he briefly held the position of deputy whip. He served on the state's Diabetes Advisory Council from 2010 to 2013. Ronecker owns On Demand Printing in Oldsmar. He has served on the Oldsmar City Council since 2003, with two terms as mayor. He currently serves on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council's Agency of Bay Management. He previously held posts on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Pinellas County Planning Council and the Pinellas County Mayors Council.
Education General equivalency diploma; firefighter/EMT certification from former Pasco-Hernando Community College; certified state fire officer and instructor Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of South Florida Associate's degree from St. Petersburg Junior College; certificate from the Advanced Institute for Elected Municipal Officials (Florida League of Cities)
Why should voters pick you in this race? "I feel I best represent what I have heard (voters) want and need. I believe I am a true conservative, and being a representative of the people will be my first priority. I oppose Greenlight Pinellas and the tax increase that goes along with it. I oppose cuts to our emergency medical services as long as we still have a private ambulance company taking profits out of our county's EMS system. I pledge to honor the vote of the people that 'eight is enough' and only serve two terms." "Because I have four years of local government experience as a city commissioner and six years experience as a state representative. My 10 years of experience will serve the constituents of District 4 extremely well in keeping their taxes low while giving them the highest level of service that they deserve." "I have an extensive resume including a decade plus worth of getting results in government during some of the toughest economic challenges. I am a local small-business manufacturer who will bring a business perspective and mentality to the job. I have sat on county boards dealing with transportation and growth and am fully committed and experienced in assuring that North Pinellas gets equal value for the taxes it pays and our libraries, parks and infrastructure needs are met. The answers are not raising taxes or kicking the can down the road, and my history shows that."
Do you support or oppose the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum? Oppose. "If it passes and I am elected, my mission will be to ensure that it stays within the strict guidelines of the budget that will be put in place for it. I will also try to find more ways for the plan to benefit the residents of District 4 since no light rail will be built north of Clearwater." Oppose. "I believe we need improvements to our transportation system but I do not believe Greenlight Pinellas the way it is written is the answer. But I do believe when I become elected I should represent the will of the citizens and I will do whatever needed to implement the plan if it passes. I am not an expert on transportation but I am willing to keep an open mind when experts who do not work for the county come up with a better transportation system than we currently are operating." Oppose. "The Greenlight plan has tremendous potential to enhance quality-of-life issues and assist with economic development. However, without a concrete regional commitment from the other counties, I have reservations. In waiting a year or two to put the referendum on the ballot, Hillsborough and Pasco would have had an opportunity to piggyback off the plan and improve the opportunity for state and federal funding. If passed, I will work to get support of state and local leaders, encourage usage by businesses, workers and tourists, and help Hillsborough and Pasco get their plans together."
Do you support the continued operation of Safe Harbor? What are the next steps for addressing homelessness? "I would not support continuing the operation as it is today. Safe Harbor needs to do more to get the homeless population that frequents the facility back on their feet and in the job force. One way to get a better return out of the facility would be a mandatory work program. If you want shelter and food, you have to work for it such as cleaning roadways and county parks. Another way to address the homeless population is to make sure veterans get signed up for all their benefits. We need to approach the issue with a continued partnership with our municipalities." "I do support Safe Harbor. It is a win-win situation, but I would also support more medical care in the facility as that seems to be lacking. Safe Harbor is definitely better than incarceration and I would support the sheriff as he comes to the commission on this issue." "Support. There is no question on the value it provides by lessening the impact on our overcrowded jail and helping homeless going through tough times to get back onto their feet. Each city should pay an equitable amount based on population so the sheriff is not paying for the bulk of the service. We should support nonprofit organizations that ... work to transform underutilized properties into housing and community spaces. The chronically homeless need housing staffed by counselors to help these individuals get off drugs or alcohol and find jobs."
What are the top three areas the county should begin to reinvest in as the economy recovers? Invest in the community by trying to reduce taxes and fees; infrastructure, roads and smart public transit reform; and beach renourishment Infrastructure such as roads and sewers; parks and recreation ("I am not in favor of charging our citizens to use our county parks"); and improving the educational system Economic development and transportation; the five communities identified as pockets of poverty (East Tarpon Springs, North Greenwood, Highpoint, Lealman and south St. Petersburg); and parks
Income, assets City salary, pension, retirement accounts; home; vehicles Business income and assets; vehicles Business income and assets; City Council salary; home; vehicles
Liabilities Mortgage None Home mortgage, business mortgage
Personal Engaged, lives in Palm Harbor Divorced, lives in Palm Harbor Married, three children, lives in Oldsmar
Website, email votemacho.com, votemacho@gmail.com No website, peternehr@gmail.com voteronecker.com, jr@voteronecker.com

 

About the job: County commissioners set a countywide property tax rate, make land use decisions, oversee departments that provide a variety of government services, and set budgets for the sheriff, property appraiser, tax collector and supervisor of elections. The term is four years and the current salary is $93,575.82.

Pinellas County Commission, District 4 08/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 15, 2014 7:34pm]
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