Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs voters go to the polls March 9

TARPON SPRINGS — With three of five City Commission seats up for grabs on March 9, Tarpon Springs' election could mark a different direction for a city that has relied on its historic charm to drive its identity.

After two terms, Mayor Beverley Billiris and Commissioner Peter Dalacos must vacate their offices due to term limits.

Commissioner Chris Alahouzos faces a challenge from political newcomer Beverly Kurpinski.

For mayor, former commissioner and political veteran David Archie faces city Board of Adjustment member Matt King.

For the seat being vacated by Dalacos, the city's Planning and Zoning Board chairman Jeff Larsen is battling local real estate agent Joe Muzio.

During the campaign, the candidates have shared their views on three issues that have been on the minds of Tarpon Springs residents:

• Should Walmart be allowed to build along the Anclote River?

• Should the city build a cut-through parking lot off Tarpon Avenue on a piece a property the commission agreed to purchase?

• How can the city improve its economic viability?

• • •

Archie, 56, was on the commission in 2005 and voted to allow Walmart to build.

"Walmart met all the standards and I'll do the same thing as I did last time," Archie said. "It's a viable industry in the U.S. I treated Walmart as I would any other entity."

In 2008, King was a member of the city's Board of Adjustment and voted against Walmart's attempt to make changes to its site plan without having to go through a more extensive review.

King, 34, doesn't think "Walmart is the type of business we want to see in our city." He said he wants the city to attract higher-paying jobs, and ones that are in the "green" industry.

As for the parking connector at 143 Tarpon Ave., Archie said he is not convinced it's needed.

"I don't think that's the best use for the money," Archie said.

King doesn't object to a Tarpon Avenue connector to the Orange Street parking lot. But he, too, is concerned about its potential cost.

When it comes to economic growth, King said "tax abatements" should be offered to prospective businesses, but he cautioned that the city needs the right kind of business.

"That doesn't mean that every business that comes along should be welcomed and have the red carpet laid out for them," King said.

Archie said because of the tough economic climate, sound decisions need to be made for all residents.

"We can't have people who have special-interest groups in mind," Archie said. "I only have one special-interest group and that's the citizens of Tarpon."

• • •

The current chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board, Larsen said he voted against Walmart for legal reasons when the issue came before the board. Larsen, 32, said Walmart did not have a valid concurrency certificate.

Larsen's name ended up on a lawsuit that was filed against the city over the Walmart matter. He said his name was added without his permission and was later removed. Walmart pushed to have Larsen recuse himself from the Planning and Zoning Board's vote. He refused.

When asked about Walmart at a recent candidate forum, Larsen said his vote indicated he was "not afraid to stand up for the rights of the citizens if an applicant does not have an application that meets the criteria that's already set forth by our codes and ordinances."

But Muzio, 58, said it's simply about a property owner's rights. He said that Walmart's plan did not encroach on the city's wetlands, unlike a proposed Lowe's or a Sweetbay shopping center that recently opened in the city. Muzio said there was no opposition to the other stores.

"We are talking about the rights of property owners," Muzio said. "We have to protect their rights just like you would want me to protect your property rights."

Larsen said he wasn't prepared to state a position about the Tarpon Avenue cut-through issue. Muzio said he wants to see a building on the lot instead.

"I don't believe making that a parking lot is the best use of that property," Muzio said. "As a Realtor, the best use for a property is its prior usage, and that was a building."

In terms of economic development, Muzio said the city needs to offer incentives to bring in businesses, noting the number of empty storefronts in downtown and the recent loss of Kmart.

"If the store is empty, we (the city) receive nothing." Muzio said.

Larsen said he will have his eye on the long-term future and health of the city.

"One thing that needs to happen is to improve the look of the downtown area," Larsen said. "Facade grants are a way property owners can get involved with the look of their properties."

• • •

Alahouzos was careful about answering Walmart questions because he said the matter still could come back before the board. But he pointed to a recently passed ordinance that limits where big-box stores can be located in Tarpon Springs.

"The environment is very important to us," Alahouzos, 59, said. "But we still have to ask, 'How do we attract businesses to Tarpon Springs?' "

Kurpinski, 63, said that everywhere she goes, she gets a different response from residents about Walmart. But she said the issue is on their minds.

"Do I want to protect the environment? I certainly do," Kurpinski said. "But I don't want to take away property rights, either."

As for the parking connector off Tarpon Avenue, Alahouzos said the land should become a combination of parking, a park and public restrooms.

Kurpinski disagreed.

"I don't think using that piece of ground for a cut-through parking lot is best right now," she said.

On the economic front, Alahouzos said he wanted the city to be sensible.

"We need to control our spending and make sound decisions and to do more with less," said Alahouzos, who also favors giving incentives to attract businesses to the area.

Kurpinski said the most important thing is to maintain a balanced budget.

"If anybody knows how to do math … all we need and we desire will not come to fruition," she said of a balanced budget. "That's one of the hardest things — keeping the city in balance."

• • •

Tarpon voters will also vote on nine city charter questions that range from required approval from residents before the city can dismantle its fire department to requiring the assistant city manager and the development services director to reside within the city within one year of being hired.

Tarpon Springs city candidates

Term limits: The city's charter limits officeholders to two consecutive three-year terms. Those who are term-limited out of office can run for another seat on the commission after waiting a year.

Pay and benefits: The mayor is paid $13,000 a year; a commissioner earns $8,000. Both positions come with health insurance.


David Archie

Age: 56

Occupation: executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Progress

Family: Married

Fundraising to date: $13,582.44

Web site: ElectArchie

Matt King

Age: 34

Occupation: Lawyer

Family: Married, two children

Fundraising to date: $3,765

Web site:

Commission Seat 3

Jeff Larsen

Age: 32

Occupation: Middle school teacher

Family: Married, two children

Fundraising to date: $4,990

Web site:

Joe Muzio

Age: 58

Occupation: Realtor

Family: Married, four adult children

Fundraising to date: $5,540

Web site:

Commission Seat 4

Chris Alahouzos

Age: 59

Occupation: Networks operations manager, Verizon

Family: Married, four adult children

Fundraising to date: $12,462.99

Web site:

Beverly Z. Kurpinski

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired owner of a cable installation company

Family: Married, two adult children

Fundraising to date: $1,860

Web site: beverlyz

Tarpon Springs voters go to the polls March 9 02/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 27, 2010 3:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  3. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond


    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  4. Mayor Rick Kriseman says election is about moving forward


    Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office  Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward..

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally
  5. Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed when cars collide at Plant City intersection


    MULBERRY — The local high school has an enrollment of 1,000 but to some it feels like a tight-knit family. Many of Mulberry High School's students have spent all of their school days within the city limits, said principal Michael Young.

    Pepe Salgado, 18, Frinzi’s brother, died at the hospital.