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Helping youth a key theme

(ran LA edition)


Greater harmony among politicians and more attention to the city's youths are among the issues being discussed by candidates for the City Commission.

Voters go to the polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to elect a mayor and two commissioners.

Running for mayor are James Palamara, acting vice mayor, and Bob DiNicola, who served on the commission for eight years ending in 1991.

Three people are running for two commission seats. Larry Sandefer and Jean Scott are newcomers. Marilyn Morris served a two-year term on the commission that ended a year ago when she was defeated in a re-election bid.

The mayor's seat is being vacated by Jim Driscoll, who said the four years he served as mayor were enough.

"I'm a firm believer in term limits, especially in a situation that is not too pleasant anyway," he said.

Driscoll said during his second term, some of the commission members didn't get along very well and meetings lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

He presided over the city as it decided to disband its embattled Police Department in favor of protection from the Sheriff's Office.

Commissioner Thomas Hardy said he was not running for re-election, saying from the beginning that he would serve only one term. "I'm not mad at anybody. I did my civic duty," he said.

The other vacant commission seat was left by Palamara, who is running for mayor.

"I'd like to see some young blood on the commission _ some people who realize there are younger people who live there," Driscoll said. He endorsed DiNicola for mayor.

DiNicola, who was defeated for re-election in 1991 and hasn't run since, said if it's not too expensive, he'd like to see the city have a recreation building that adults and children could use.

"We need something for the kids. We need to look to the future," he said.

The other candidate for mayor, Palamara, said the city needs the best education and recreation programs possible.

"Today's youth are tomorrow's leaders, and tomorrow's leaders will be making the decisions that will affect the quality of our lives," he said.

One of the three candidates for two commission seats, Scott, said she thinks the commission needs to recognize the needs of younger people in the city.

"We have a very mixed age group," she said. "We need to be concerned with everyone's needs."

Morris said she wants to see major issues, such as closing the Police Department, be voted on by residents. Otherwise, she said, "People get disgusted and apathy forms. They say, "Nobody's listening to me.'


Sandefer said he wants to help maintain the city's unique qualities. "I don't want us to be so interested in ourselves that we want to keep everyone out. I also don't want to bring in tourists at all costs," he said.



The mayor and city commissioners are elected at-large for two-year terms.

Two candidates are vying for the mayor's seat. Three candidates are vying for two commission seats. The top two vote-getters will be elected.

Commissioners Austin Campbell and Francis "Sandy" Sullivan remain in office. They are in the middle of their two-year terms.

The mayor is paid $250 a month, and commissioners are paid $200 a month.


Bob DiNicola

AGE: 61.

BACKGROUND: He and his wife, Renie, live at 471 Harbor Drive N. They have been married 40 years and have two children and three grandchildren. DiNicola, a native of Alexandria, Va., has lived in Indian Rocks Beach for about 16 years. He retired as chief stone inspector for the Architect of the Capitol in Washington. He and his wife own the Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in Sunshine Mall. DiNicola, who served in the Army during the Korean War, hurt his back and moved to Florida to be in warmer weather. DiNicola served eight years as commissioner in Indian Rocks Beach, ending with his defeat in 1991. This is the first time he has run since then. He is a block captain in Neighborhood Crime Watch and a three-year trustee at VFW. He is a member of St. Jerome Church, where he is minister of hospitality. DiNicola is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and corporation board member. He is on the board of the Indian Rocks Beach Civic Association and is a past president of the group. He is a member of the Homeowners Association, Historical Society and Beach Art Center. He is not limiting campaign contributions.

ASSETS: Home, Merle Norman business.


INCOME: Retirement from the U.S. Department of Labor.

James Palamara

AGE: 38.

BACKGROUND: He and his wife, Karin, live at 102 15th Ave. Palamara a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has lived in Pinellas County for 18 years and in Indian Rocks Beach for nine years. He is a certified Class A general contractor, specializing in structural concrete. He has worked in construction for most of his life. Palamara's first run for public office was in 1992 when he won the election for commissioner in Indian Rocks Beach. He is vice mayor. Palamara was on the city's Planning and Zoning Board and was vice chairman. He was vice president of the Homeowners Association in 1989 and board member in 1990. He is not limiting campaign contributions.

ASSETS: Home, beauty parlor, construction equipment, five acres in Suwanee County, two lots in Port Charlotte.


INCOME: Construction work, beauty parlor.


Marilyn Morris

AGE: 56.

BACKGROUND: She and her husband, Francis, live at 334 La Hacienda Drive. They moved from New York City to Pinellas County about 20 years ago. They have lived in Indian Rocks Beach for eight years. The couple owned a restaurant in the city, La Sol De Mare, for 17 years. It closed in 1991. They now rent the restaurant building as well as other property. Marilyn Morris taught ballet in New York City, where she and her husband also ran a restaurant. Francis Morris retired as a firefighter in New York before they moved to Florida. She first ran for City Commission in 1991, and was elected. She was defeated for re-election last year. She has served on the Board of Adjustment and Appeals. She was president of the Homeowners Association for two years ending in 1989 and currently is vice president. She and her husband have four daughters. She said she has accepted no campaign contributions.

ASSETS: Home, commercial property in the city.


INCOME: Rental property.

Larry Sandefer

AGE: 44.

BACKGROUND: He and his wife, Terry, live on Harbor Drive S. The native of Gainesville has lived in Indian Rocks Beach for about six years. He earned a degree in management from Auburn University in 1972 and a law degree from the University of Florida in 1977. Between college and law school, he served as a procurement officer in the Air Force for two years. After law school, he joined the state attorney's office in Pinellas County, where he was an assistant state attorney from 1978-1986. He was a lead trial attorney and one of the division directors. Sandefer has been in private practice since 1986. His only other bid for elective office was a failed attempt for circuit judge in Pinellas County in 1992. He has served on the city's Parks and Recreation Board and is on the Board of Adjustment. He is a member of the Indian Rocks Beach Civic Association. He said he is not accepting campaign contributions.



INCOME: Law practice.

Jean Scott

AGE: 45.

BACKGROUND: She and her husband George live at 100 Gulf Blvd., No. 301. The Atlanta native has lived in Indian Rocks Beach since 1987. She owns and manages rental property in the city. In Atlanta, she worked as an independent promotion and marketing agent for the music business and was a docket clerk for the state Court of Appeals in Georgia for seven years. She is one of the leaders of the local Neighborhood Crime Watch Program. She is secretary of the Homeowners Association and a member of Stop Turning Out Prisoners. She said she is not taking campaign contributions.

ASSETS: Home, two rental condominiums.


INCOME: Rental property.

Polling place

City Hall, 1507 Bay Palm Blvd.


Familiar names on the ballot

INDIAN SHORES _ Three of the four candidates for the two vacant at-large seats on the Town Council have been there before. Only one, Jewell Vincent, is taking her first try at elected office on Tuesday.

Vincent, 49, an operations supervisor for H & R Block tax service, said her lack of political experience may serve her well because she has no baggage to carry with her into the race.

Council member Barbara VanVorhis decided not to run for re-election, throwing the race wide open.

Janet Hoppe, 63, a former mayor, is the lone incumbent seeking a second term. She also was a council member from 1985 until 1987.

Rounding out the field are Kenneth Johnston, 62, who served on the Town Council as vice mayor from 1990 to 1992, and Jane Hawk, 50, who was on the council at the same time.

Mayor Robert McEwen is unopposed and is automatically re-elected.

There are no new issues facing this beach community this election, but all of the candidates say they want to push forward some items that have been lingering for awhile. These include a widening project on Gulf Boulevard and a town beautification project. There also is interest among candidates for possible consolidation of the town's police force with other beach communities.



Each candidate is elected to a two-year term and earns $125 a month salary. The polling place is in Town Hall.


Jane Hawk

AGE: 50.

BACKGROUND: Lives at 19417 Gulf Blvd., Apt. A-113. She served as a council member one term from 1990 to 1992. She is a night supervisor at Pasadena Yacht and Country Club for a Tampa-based security firm. She is president of the Indian Shores Women's Club and is the past vice president for the Keep Barrier Islands Beautiful, an organization that draws members from six beach communities. She is trying for another term because she "enjoys politics and enjoys people," she said. She is a former police officer from Louisiana, coming to Indian Shores in 1986 from Baker, La. In 1988, she worked as a liaison between the Indian Shores Police Department and the Town Council. She is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Institute at Lousiana State University in Baton Rouge. She is divorced and has one son.

PLATFORM: Would like to see beautification project move forward and favors applying for grants to widen Gulf Boulevard. She said she opposes the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office taking over the town's police force but would consider consolidation with other beach communities.

ASSETS: Stocks.


INCOME: Salary.

Janet Hoppe

AGE: 63.

BACKGROUND: Lives at 19400 Gulf Blvd. and is the lone incumbent in this race, after winning her seat in 1992. Previously, she was a council member from 1985-87. In 1988, she was elected mayor and served one term. The Tampa native has lived in Indian Shores for 29 years. In addition to her mayoral and council experience, she also has served as a deputy city clerk for Belleair Bluffs, and was an Indian Rocks Fire Commissioner from 1978-85. She currently represents the town on the Barrier Islands Governmental Council and on the ethics and personnel committee for the Florida League of Cities. She is a past member of the town's board of adjustment. Also a journalist, she worked for newspapers in the Miami area and for the Clearwater Sun. She holds a real estate license, but said she no longer sells property. She graduated from Florida State University.

PLATFORM: She supports a local police department and would favor some sort of consolidation in the future with other beach departments. She backs the beautification project and the Gulf Boulevard widening project. She also wants improvements for two town roads with drainage problems. She is interested in what she calls a "watchdog" approach on all new construction.

ASSETS: Stock, home.


INCOME: Social Security and rental income.

Kenneth Johnston

AGE: 63.

BACKGROUND: Lives at 19000 Gulf Blvd. with his wife, Galina. They own and operate Casa Chico vacation cottages. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and has lived in Indian Shores since 1989, moving here from Tampa. He served one term on the council four years ago and was vice mayor. The greatest strength he can bring to the council is his ability to work with and inspire a staff, he said. As an example, he points to his work in removing the toll from the Park Boulevard bridge. Although he was not responsible for that action, he helped the project move through proper channels on the county level, he said. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and St. Andrews Russian Orthodox Church in St. Petersburg. He is a native of Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma State University. He has four children.

PLATFORM: He strongly favors the burial or undergrounding of utility wires in the town. He said he and his wife have already done so on their own property at their own expense. He also favors keeping the town's police force.

ASSETS: Business, five properties, stock.


INCOME: Air Force retirement, rental income.

Jewell Vincent

AGE: 59.

BACKGROUND: She lives at 20019 Gulf Blvd. Apt. 9. A longtime observer of city business, this is her first attempt at elected office. She is operations supervisor for H


R Block for the St. Petersburg district. She said she has a strong history in business management and describes herself as stubborn when it comes to getting a stalled problem resolved. She is president of the Pier House One condominium association and president of the Women's Republican Club of St. Petersburg Federated. She is a native of Macon, Ga., moving to this area in 1969. She has lived in Indian Shores since 1985. She is divorced and has two children.

PLATFORM: She wants the town to move forward on its stalled beautification plan and the widening project for Gulf Boulevard. She also favors the town keeping its own police force.



INCOME: Salary.


The race that almost wasn't

There almost wasn't an election in Largo this year.

Had political newcomer Kim Deguise not come forward to challenge three-term incumbent Jean Halvorsen, this year's election would have gone by the board.

Initially, there were to be three seats up for grabs. In addition to Halvorsen's, four-term incumbent Jim Miles and Mayor Thomas "Thom" Feaster's seats were to have been on the ballot.

However, no one filed to run against Miles and Feaster so they were automatically re-elected.

Deguise, who has been attending commission meetings on a regular basis, said she decided to run against Halvorsen after reviewing her voting record. Deguise said she disagreed with Halvorsen's vote to not allow the electorate the final decision on building a cultural arts center in Largo Central Park.

Although Deguise said she favors a cultural arts center in the park, the voters should have had the final say on the issue, Deguise said.

Halvorsen said she voted against a referendum on the cultural arts center because the suggestion to place it on this year's ballot came too late.

"That decision (to build a theater in the park) was made a long time ago," Halvorsen said.

When the city's theater in the Community Center burned in 1988, commissioners decided to rebuild the theater in Largo Central Park instead of making it a part of a new Community Center.

Also, a survey conducted by an outside firm determined there is a need for a small theater in the city, Halvorsen said.

There don't appear to be any other significant issues on which the candidates differ.

Both candidates say they wish the city could afford to pay the entire cost for street repavings but neither would raise taxes to do so.

Deguise said some Recreation and Parks Department programs are a waste of money but she hasn't named the wasteful ones.

Deguise said Halvorsen has had her day as a commissioner and thinks it's time for a new face on the board.

"There comes a time when you're antiquated, when you don't bring any new ideas to the job," Deguise said. "Sometimes you stay longer than you need to."

Halvorsen said she's as enthused as ever about serving on the commission.

"It's still a challenge," Halvorsen said.



Candidates are seeking Seat 4 on a commission made up of seven members. The candidate elected will serve a three-year term. Largo commissioners make $6,400.49 annually.


Jean Halvorsen

AGE: 63.

BACKGROUND: Jean Halvorsen lives at 79 Royal Palm Circle. She has been a Largo resident for 18 years. Halvorsen, a widow, is a retired stenographer who worked for Graybar Electric Co. in Madison, Wis. She is president of the Suncoast League of Municipalities, a board member of Pinellas Trails Inc. and the Largo Area Mobile Home Council and a member of the Greater Largo Chamber of Commerce. She is a charter member of the Greater Largo Republican Club. Halvorsen, who

is seeking a fourth term on the commission, is limiting campaign contributions to $100 each. Halvorsen has been endorsed by the Largo Mobile Home Owners Association, and the three unions that represent city employees: Communication Workers of America, the Police Benevolent Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

ASSETS: Home, bonds.


INCOME: Bonds and Social Security.

Kim Deguise

AGE: 29.

BACKGROUND: She lives at 2211 Lauren Drive. She has been a Largo resident all her life. Deguise, who is single, is a secretary at Blessed Sacrament School in Seminole. She is a member of the Greater Largo Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Largo Republican Club and the Women's Professional Rodeo Association. Deguise, who has never run for public office before, is not limiting campaign contributions. Deguise has been endorsed by the Greater Clearwater Association of Realtors.



INCOME: Salary.

Polling places

Area 1: Fairway Village mobile home park, 1100 S Belcher Road. Precincts 282, 291, 293, 294, 295, 348, 349, 350.

Area 2: Rogate Lutheran Church, 4825 East Bay Drive. Precincts 351, 364, 365, 366, 374, 601, 603.

Area 3: Highland Recreation Complex, 400 N Highland Ave. Precincts 361, 362, 367, 368, 502.

Area 4: Largo Community Center, 64 Fourth St. NW. Precincts 354, 359, 360, 369, 373

Area 5: Palm Hill Country Club, 1800 Seminole Blvd. Precincts 296, 328, 329, 331, 346, 347.

Area 6: Christ Presbyterian Church, 3115 Dryer Ave. SW. Precincts 355, 356.

Area 7: Southwest Recreation Complex, 13120 Vonn Road. Precincts 322, 323, 330, 342, 343, 344, 345.

Area 8: Largo Library, 351 East Bay Drive. Precincts 352, 353.