SEMINOLE — Developers want millions in tax rebates from Pinellas property owners for redeveloping Seminole Mall and they want the city's help in convincing county commissioners to agree to the deal.
"It's a huge project, which impacts more than just the city," said Richard Trzcinski, president of Primerica Group One. "That's why we feel it's necessary to have the county work with us."...
11/13/14 Local Government
SEMINOLE — Mayor Leslie Waters recently drove up and down the city's main streets taking down names of businesses and looking for neighborhoods that display the American flag.
"I … have observed that there are not enough flags, in my opinion, displayed at businesses and in neighborhoods on holidays or throughout the year," Waters told City Council members in a recent memo....
Voters in four mid and south Pinellas municipalities had a chance Tuesday to weigh in on proposed changes to their city or town charter. The charter acts like a constitution, setting forth the framework for the way the town is run.
City Council members will no longer have to worry about losing their positions if they speak up about high-level mayoral appointments.
Voters approved a change to the city's charter, which had forbid council members from voicing their opinion about the hiring of a police chief, fire chief or department head. ...
Winners of races in two South Pinellas fire districts romped home in Tuesday's election with massive victories.
In one race, the incumbent was victorious. In the other, a first-time challenger defeated the incumbent.
Becky Harriman won another term on the Lealman Fire Comission, a position she has held since being appointed in 2001. She campaigned on her experience. Harriman defeated first-time candidate Jorge Mercado, who said he wanted to bring a fresh, reasoned viewpoint to the board....
LARGO — Longtime incumbent Harriet Crozier lost her seat on the City Commission to first-time candidate Donna Holck.
According to unofficial results, Holck narrowly defeated Crozier by 235 votes: 10,400 or about 50.5 percent of the vote to Crozier's 10,165 votes, or about 49.5 percent.
The outcome of the other two races for the Largo commission was never in doubt.
Seat 1 incumbent Michael Smith was winning a landslide victory with 65 percent of the vote (13,472 votes) to Bronson "O" Oudshoff's 35 percent (7,256 votes). It was Oudshoff's first run for public office....
SEMINOLE — Voters here went with two familiar faces, according to unofficial election results.
Incumbent Bob Matthews — who has served on the council since 1990, with the exception of eight months in 2006-07 — was re-elected. First-time candidate Roger Edelman, well-known as president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, claimed the other open seat.
Matthews, who received 26.8 percent (2,906 votes) of the vote, and Edelman, with 23.8 percent (2,582), easily defeated the other four candidates in the race. Thomas J. Christy, who was making his fifth run at the council, claimed 15.4 percent (1,672)....
10/29/14 Human Interest
INDIAN SHORES — Last spring, a Virginia man sued the founder of the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, accusing him of taking money for a car he later refused to sell.
Now, two others have filed a second suit also accusing Ralph Heath of taking money for the same car but failing to turn the vehicle over to them.
The plaintiffs in both lawsuits want Heath to turn over the Chevrolet, described in court documents as a "unique, one of a kind Corvette collector's automobile. It is the only triple red un-restored and all original 1963 Corvette of its kind and is the first fuel-injected Corvette ever known to be delivered in the state of Florida, and it is irreplaceable since it is one of a kind."...
LEALMAN — A political newcomer wants to bring a fresh, reasoned viewpoint to the Lealman fire board.
Jorge Mercado, 38, is facing longtime incumbent Rebecca Harriman, 57, in the Nov. 4 non-partisan race for Seat 4. Harriman is running on her experience.
"The commission has done an okay job," Mercado said. But some decisions, he said, seem based more on emotion rather than what's best for taxpayers....
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — A St. Petersburg division chief is squaring off against an incumbent for a seat on the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue Commission.
Joseph Bruni, 55, is facing James G. Mortellite, 38, first elected to the board in 2002. Mortellite is seeking a fourth term.
Bruni is a Pittsburgh native who moved into the Suncoast district area 27 years ago. A firefighter in the Pittsburgh area, he started with the St. Pete Beach department and moved to the St. Petersburg department about nine months later. He is now division chief of safety and training. Bruni also taught at the St. Petersburg College fire academy for 13 years....
A charter is like a constitution that governs the way a city or town is run. Several municipalities have proposed changes to their charters.
A charter change allowing City Council members to express their views on high-level mayoral appointments was approved for the ballot by the council in August.
The change would allow council members to voice opinions on the hiring of a police chief, fire chief or department head. The proposed change wouldn't give the council the power to hire, fire or confirm high-level hires. ...
State House | District 66
Republican Larry Ahern, a local business owner, is running for his third term in the Florida House. He is opposed by first-time candidate Lorena Grizzle, a Pinellas teacher who is the daughter of the late Mary Grizzle, the longtime Republican state legislator. By Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer
Lorena Grizzle, 61 Larry Ahern, 59 Party Democrat Republican Experience A native of Pinellas who works with exceptional education pupils at Bauder Elementary School. Before that, she worked at High Point and Walsingham elementaries and as a substitute teacher. She is a former sales representative for the Florida Lottery, worked in real estate and property management, and was a corporate secretary and self-employed artist. She has received the Kraf-Custer Outstanding Educator Award and was named the direct marketing representative of the year, statewide saleswoman of the year and district top gun of the year for the Florida Lottery. Serves on the government relations committee of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association; is a former president of the Madeira Beach Middle School PTA; and is a member of Calvary Episcopal Church, the Seminole Historical Society, the Mid-Pinellas Democratic Club and the National Organization for Women. A native of Detroit, he served four years in the Air Force. He moved to St. Petersburg in 1978. He owned Tyrone Discount Pool Supplies for 20 years. He currently owns Ahern and Byrne with his wife, Maureen. He was first elected to Florida House District 51 in 2010. District lines were redrawn before the 2012 election, moving him to District 66. He was elected again (to District 66) in 2012. He is the vice chairman of the health and human services committee and the government operations subcommittee. He serves on the choice and innovations, education and appropriations, and ethics and elections subcommittees. Education University of South Florida, master's in reading education, MAT in exceptional student education; Colorado State University, Fort Collins, bachelor's in art; St. Petersburg College, associate's in general studies A graduate of West Bloomfield High School. Additional training in the Air Force. If elected, what would be your top priorities? Education, the economy and the environment Creating jobs, limiting the size and scope of government, helping students succeed, energy independence and health care. What is your position on abortion? "I don't believe government has any right to say anything about abortion. Period." "God gives all people, including the unborn, their individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Sponsor of a bill that established penalties for killing or injuring a fetus when a pregnant woman is attacked. The bill went into effect Oct. 2. Should Florida accept Medicaid expansion money? "I support accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage. We should not send our Medicaid dollars back to Washington when we need to take care of our poorest citizens here at home. I will work to keep our costs as residents and homeowners low by utilizing the taxes we already pay." No. Voted against Medicaid expansion because the state should not rely on the federal government for coverage. He favors a safety net for those who need it but is concerned the costs of Medicaid "adds to the debt and deficit that someone will some day have to pay for." Fundraising $9,580.72 $156,400.14 Financial disclosure Assets: real estate in Largo and Clearwater; liabilities: mortgage, equity line of credit, student loan, car loan; income: School District salary, rental income Assets: home, checking account, IRA, life insurance; liabilities: none listed; income: state representative's salary, Ahern and Byrne Personal Divorced, one child. Married, three children Contact grizzleforpinellas.com; firstname.lastname@example.org larryahern.com; email@example.com
Largo Commission | Seat 1
The contest for Seat 1 is between incumbent Michael Smith and challenger Bronson "O" Oudshoff. Smith is seeking his second term on the commission. He says he wants to continue his work improving the city's relationships with residents and businesses. Oudshoff is making his first run for public office. Oudshoff touts his involvement with his church and says he's strongly antitax, but also wants to beef up staffing at the police and fire departments. By Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer...
Seminole City Council
The City Council will face major issues in the coming year. Seminole Mall, the city's downtown, is slated for redevelopment, and Frank Edmunds, the first city manager, is retiring after about 20 years on the job. The new council will have to oversee the mall development and choose a new manager to help complete the project. Six men — one incumbent, one veteran of four unsuccessful runs at the council, one who was briefly a state House candidate and three new faces — want the job. They're running at large; the two top vote-getters will take office. By Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer...
Largo Commission | Seat 2
Seat 2 became vacant when Robert Murray decided not to seek re-election. That cleared the way for two first-time candidates to seek the office. Samantha Fenger is a city planner. Her opponent, Daniel Ruffner, is a banker. By Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer
Samantha Fenger, 35 Daniel Ruffner, 47 Experience A native Floridian, she has lived in Largo for about 10 years. Her experience includes stints as a city planner. She has served on Largo's planning board and the city's community development advisory board. She is a graduation of the Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, Largo's Citizens Academy and received the city's good neighbors partnership grant. She is a member of the Veterans Community Partnership, the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce, Women Working Together for Animals at the SPCA Tampa Bay, the Healthy Pinellas Coalition, the Metropolitan Planning Organization bicycle advisory committee, the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, the Volunteer Directors Association of Pinellas County and is a member of the council for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Pinellas County. He has lived in Largo since 1972 and has worked in the city for 20 years. Currently, a vice president at BB&T, he previously worked at AmSouth Bank. He is a member of the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. He serves on Largo's Code Enforcement Board. Education Graduate of Cary Grove High School in Cary, Ill.; bachelor's in environmental studies from Eckerd College; MBA in sustainable management from Marylhurst University in Marylhurst, Ore. Graduate of Largo High School. He is an honors graduate of St. Petersburg College, banking and finance degree awarded; a graduate of the University of South Florida, Florida Bankers Association, Florida trust school diploma awarded; and a graduate of the American Bankers Association, banking diploma awarded. Why should someone vote for you? I have a clear vision for the city based on experience and training: sustainable growth, efficient and effective city services, encourage downtown development while maintaining residential services. "My platform is all about fiscal responsibility. I intend to utilize my vast financial education and work experience to ensure that the city of Largo has a sound financial plan for the future. We have an obligation to the citizens of Largo to spend their tax dollars wisely, and on programs that will allow for growth, but without putting an undue burden on its taxpayers." How would you encourage businesses to locate and remain in Largo? Collaboration between the city and the Chamber of Commerce. Tax incentives, especially in the redevelopment area. Would repeal the sign ordinance requiring pole signs be swapped out for monument-style signs no taller than 8 feet. (Commissioners recently extended the deadline for conforming with the rule to June 5, 2019. ) If elected, what issue needs to be immediately addressed? The commission is already addressing the issue of public safety (staffing in the police and fire departments), so that leaves determining a vision for the downtown area. Get staffing at the police and fire departments up to prerecession levels. Would also increase pay and benefits to keep from losing police and firefighters to other jurisdictions. Fundraising $6,458 $2,085 Financial disclosure Assets: none listed; liabilities: none listed; income: salary Assets: salary, real estate, 401(k); liabilities: loan; income: salary, rent Personal Married Married with one child Contact samanthafenger.com; firstname.lastname@example.org N/A
Largo Commission | Seat 5
The race for Seat 5 pits longtime member Harriet K. Crozier against first-time candidate Donna Holck. Crozier is touting her experience. Holck says it's time for new blood and vows to leave the seat after two terms if elected. By Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer
Harriet K. Crozier, 70 Donna Holck, 51 Experience A native of Dayton, Ohio, she moved to Florida in 1971. She is retired. She worked for 17 years at Sperry Rand and taught at Pinellas Technical Education Centers, was the office manager for Whitehall Garden Apartments and Serenity Gardens Cemetery and Moss Feaster Funeral Home. She served as a city commissioner from 1993 until 1999. She was re-elected to the commission for a one-year term in 2000, another three-year term in 2001, and again in 2004 and 2007, and a four-year term in 2010. She has served as vice mayor five times. She has owned DGH Tax Consultants since 2007. Before then, she was a nail technician for 35 years. She did training and trade shows for Unique Nail Products. She has owned several salons in Largo and taught nail classes at Lorraine's Academy in St. Petersburg for 5 years. Education She is a graduate of Proviso West High School in Hillside, Ill. She has two years of business classes. She is a graduate of Seminole High School and attended St. Petersburg College. Why should someone vote for you? My experience on the commission. Among other things, that experience means I can get results because I know people across Pinellas who listen when I speak. I have several visions for Largo: Prioritize spending, make sure the Police Department is fully funded and staffed. Would also bring new blood t o the council. Pledge to serve only two terms. "I'm not a politician, so I know what the average person is looking for from their city government because that's what I'm looking for." How would you encourage businesses to locate and remain in Largo? Many incentives , such as tax abatements, already exist to encourage businesses to locate in Largo. The city and commission need to work with the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce to find ways to retain businesses. Focus on downtown Largo. Provide a clear vision for development that will attract businesses and tourists. What is the greatest challenge Largo will face in the next five years? Should Greenlight Pinellas pass, then East Bay will be transformed. Residents, businesses, and city staff and officials need to come together to figure out the best way to make those changes and ensure all feel included in the decisions that will be made. Downtown development. Building the police and fire departments back up to full manpower. Annexation. Greenlight Pinellas. Fundraising $6,225.54 $4,310 Financial disclosure Assets: none listed; liabilities: none listed; income: Social Security, commission salary Assets: none listed Liabilities: loan; income: DGH Tax Consulting Inc. Personal Married, one daughter Married Contact email@example.com; on Facebook: Harriet Crozier Largo City Commission donnaforlargo.com; firstname.lastname@example.org