Editor's note: On Feb. 22, the St. Petersburg Times printed its editorial recommendations of candidates in the March 10 Dunedin city election. We recommended Dave Eggers, who is opposed by Deborah Kynes, for mayor; Julie Scales, opposed by Michael Quill, for City Commission Seat 1; Tony Scruton, who is opposed by Ron Barnette for Seat 2, and Dave Carson, opposed by John Tornga, for Seat 3. Candidates who were not recommended submitted the following responses.
I would like to thank the Times for its consistent endorsement of my candidacy in all my prior elections since 1999 and for stating, relative to the upcoming election, that I would serve Dunedin well as mayor.
During my 25 years serving the city, Dunedin has become the envy of other communities and was recently named "Florida's Outstanding City" by the Florida League of Cities. We are a city of many "firsts." This has been accomplished while reducing our tax rate by 13.5 percent and at the same time preserving our city services. I have worked tirelessly for that.
City leadership requires experience. Experience comes from work. Volunteers work. In addition to my years as a commissioner, I was an assistant county attorney and have practiced law privately. I have been chairman of our Code Enforcement Board, Stadium Advisory Committee and Public Relations Advisory Committee. I was chairman of the Florida League of Cities' Environmental Quality Committee, chairman of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and chairman of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. I have the experience and I am a proud volunteer.
Our citizens and our city are faced with unprecedented economic challenges. Our economic realities must not impact our core services such as fire, police, stormwater and utility infrastructure. I will fight for that.
Meeting economic challenges while preserving our quality of life requires a leader with a proven ability to build consensus, not only with members of the City Commission but with the city manager and his staff. A leader with vision and dedication can do that. I will do that.
My experience is proven. I know the job and I have a passion for Dunedin. I ask for your vote on March 10.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss my vision with the citizens of Dunedin.
In these tough economic times, we need to set our priorities so that we may continue to enjoy a great quality of life in Dunedin. We need to watch our spending dollar by dollar, improve our economy, make public safety a priority and keep Dunedin green. This requires leadership, good judgment and vision.
As a retired police lieutenant and acting chief in Gulfport, I supervised 50 law enforcement personnel. I have a proven track record of being tough enough to make difficult decisions. My experience within a city government has given me a deep understanding of budgets supported by tax dollars and the need to manage effectively.
Also, my experience as a small business owner in Dunedin has prepared me for the challenges facing our city. As a vice president of Q&A Productions, an independent film company currently in pre-production for a baseball script called the Gas House Gang, I oversee the project and budget.
I have been a resident of Dunedin for more than 20 years and actively working to improve our community by working alongside the Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club and Dunedin Stadium Advisory Committee, to name a few. I have a bachelor of science degree in criminology with a concentration in public administration.
As a Dunedin city commissioner, I won't be the commissioner attacking my fellow commissioners, I won't advocate raising taxes and I will work hard for the best interest of Dunedin.
The Times urges the voters in Dunedin to choose with care. I agree. I offer vision, honesty and integrity to the Dunedin City Commission.
Why should you vote for me for city commissioner? Mainly for what the Times failed to mention.
Upon moving to Dunedin in 2002, I immediately became involved in our community, serving on important city committees as a trustee of the Dunedin Firefighters' Pension Fund Board and on the board of directors of the Dunedin Historical Museum. I am a member of the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, Historical Museum, Fine Art Center, Council of Organizations and Friends of Hammock Park.
In 2008, I was awarded the City of Dunedin Certificate of Recognition for showcasing Dunedin in a CNN/Money magazine article and video, and in 2004, I received the City Commission Appreciation Award for writing Dunedin's approved "Code of Core Values for Civility and Ethics."
I have 30 years of proven experience with public budget accountability and with responsibly reducing taxpayer-supported budgets in times of budget reductions, while maintaining a clear vision for protecting core values and mission of the operation.
I am a trained mediator in conflict resolution, and as city commissioner I will bring consensus and reason to the governance of Dunedin. I will not avail myself of the health insurance offered by the city, money which, hopefully, will be used to help save a city worker's job, and I pledge that my commissioner's salary will be spent locally to support our community economy.
I have never wavered from my dedication to Dunedin's well-being and will do all that I can to help guide our city during these difficult economic times. I pledge to be your citizen commissioner, not answering to any private interests, and to continue working for a better Dunedin. Please call me personally with your questions and concerns at (727)798-9429. I thank you deeply for your consideration.
As a candidate for Dunedin City Commission Seat 3, I would like to thank the Times for your acknowledgement of my military service, strong education, business background and experience, including your statement "Tornga has an exceptional resume."
I have attended a majority of Dunedin's committees and boards and am well aware of and acquainted with the important issues of the city.
You mentioned that my opponent "has taken a particular interest in budget issues, creek pollution and storm water flooding in Dunedin." Curlew Creek runs through my back yard and as president of Spanish Trails Home Owners Association, creeks and storm water remain a great concern. This became critical in the late 1990s when the creek often overflowed its banks, causing serious damage. The city, state, county and a number of concerned citizens, including myself, worked together to provide corrective action for relief of this problem, resulting in an active, ongoing task force concerning this issue.
Among many issues important to the citizens, the budget is the No. 1 challenge, an area where I can help guide and support Dunedin while maintaining the high quality of life for all residents.
I believe that when voting, voters will cast their votes based on their own opinion of the depth and breadth of the background and character of each candidate. If elected, I am capable, ready and willing to apply my education, leadership and business experience to serve all of the citizens of Dunedin, providing the highest confidence in government. I am committed to the continued support of our values and our rounded, robust culture, which helps makes Dunedin such a unique community.
Feel free to contact me at www.johntornga.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 781-6023.
I ask each voter for their consideration and vote. Thank you.