Pity the municipal official of the 1990s.
An increasingly disgruntled public demands more and better services from cities, but objects to paying more taxes. Sources of revenue that municipalities once counted on to pay a big chunk of the bills are drying up. State and federal governments are placing more responsibilities on municipalities; people have discovered they can sue cities for big bucks; and diversity, cost containment and changing management philosophies present new challenges.
It isn't easy to be an elected leader in a city these days. In this sort of environment, Oldsmar voters will go to the polls March 8 to choose a new member of the City Council. The winner will take the seat being vacated by council member Jerry Beverland. Council members serve two-year terms and are paid $400 a month.
Only two candidates qualified for the race. One is familiar to Oldsmar residents: Tom Pinta. Pinta, 78, retired in 1972 as general manager of Busch Gardens in Tampa. He has spent much of his retirement serving the city of Oldsmar in one capacity or another. He was on the City Council from 1985 to 1987, served as mayor for four years, then was elected to another term on the council. He completed that term last year. He also organized clubs in Oldsmar and served on several government or quasi-governmental boards.
The other candidate in this race is virtually unknown. Richard Schauseil, 42, is a Miami native who moved to Oldsmar two years ago. He sells real estate, does construction work occasionally in South Florida, and is a student majoring in chemistry at the University of South Florida.
Soon after moving to Oldsmar, Schauseil became upset because a commercial mullet fisherman was fishing regularly in the canal that Schauseil's home overlooks. Schauseil called City Hall to complain but never got a response. So he went to City Hall and told the city clerk he wanted to run for mayor. A one-year residency requirement stopped him. When Beverland's seat came open on the council, Schauseil chose to run for it.
Schauseil has some interesting ideas. He wants to form a natural resources advisory committee to advise the City Council on environmental issues. He suggests that council meetings be held in neighborhoods occasionally. He wants the city to promote and use its waterfront more _ holding fishing tournaments and seafood festivals there, and perhaps studying whether a city marina would be feasible.
But Schauseil has not taken the time to prepare himself for the job of council member. He began attending council meetings only a few weeks ago. He has not served on city boards or involved himself in civic affairs. He has only a smattering of knowledge about city issues, and he displays considerable naivete about the time demands and the difficulty of serving as a council member, even in a small town like Oldsmar.
Pinta, on the other hand, knows all about the rigors. And he says he is prepared for them. At 78, "I'm old in years, but not physically or mentally," he says. Indeed, he is as feisty, informed and opinionated as ever.
Pinta supports the movement to build an art center in Oldsmar, but wants it to be modified slightly to be a multipurpose community center. That finally would give civic groups a place to meet, he said.
He supports the chamber of commerce's plan to form an economic development committee that will attempt to lure new businesses to town. He has been working behind the scenes to encourage the Tampa Bay Park of Commerce to annex into the city.
Oldsmar needs council members who are ready to confront the challenges of the '90s. Tom Pinta is prepared. Schauseil is not.
We recommend a vote for Tom Pinta for Oldsmar City Council.
The candidate not recommended may submit a response for publication. The response should be limited to 300 words, should not attack the candidate's opponent, and must be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday to Diane Steinle, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 34616. The response may be faxed by calling 445-4119.
A note about recommendations
This newspaper publishes recommendations to help readers become more knowledgeable voters. The job is not easy, nor is it one we take lightly.
Editors send candidates questionnaires about their backgrounds and positions on the issues. They compare these responses, examine campaign materials and study the candidates through an array of public records and sources. Editors also invite the candidates for private interviews, and they may call upon the insights of other people in the community to learn more about the candidates.
The goal is to provide readers with the newspaper's recommendation of who is best for the job and why. We hope these recommendations will entice readers to learn more about the candidates and vote for their choices on Election Day.