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Leadership, services on beach community ballots

The following is a roundup of Tuesday's elections in Madeira Beach, Redington Beach and North Redington Beach.

Madeira Beach

Voters in this city of roughly 4,250 will elect a mayor, two commissioners and decide whether city officials can limit the parking of large vehicles in residential areas. The referendum asks residents if they want to retain an ordinance that limits the size of commercial vehicles, recreational vehicles and boats that can be parked in residential areas.

While the city's appearance is a hot issue, voters also must sift through the candidates for various positions on the City Commission. In the mayor's race, Tom De Cesare, who became mayor in 1993 when Mayor Marvin Frederick died, is being challenged by Dewey J. Leigh.

De Cesare, 61, has said he is running because he is doing a good job as mayor and wants to retain the post. Elected to the commission in 1991, he became vice mayor in 1993. If elected, he wants to avoid tax increases and stick to the city's six-year plan to improve roads and sewers.

Leigh, 65, also was elected to the commission in 1991 but decided not to seek re-election in 1993. But he said residents asked him to seek office because the city lacks leadership. Leigh, who is a retired computer systems analyst for the City of St. Petersburg, says he wants to continue support to the city's recreational program for young people and provide more open government.

In District 1, Commissioner Paul T. O'Connor is being challenged by former District 1 Commissioner Arnold Alloway. O'Connor, 63, has served on the commission since he defeated Alloway in 1990.

O'Connor is running for another term, he has said, because he wants to see programs completed that were started while he was in office. Some of those include continuing the beautification program and the program to repave the city's streets and improve the sewer system to reduce flooding. O'Connor, who owns a window company, has been under investigation by the Florida Elections Commission for depositing a campaign donation in his personal account.

Alloway, 50, served on the commission eight years before losing to O'Connor. Alloway, who is a UPS driver, said he is running because he thinks O'Connor is out of touch with residents. If elected, the former commissioner has said that he will obtain more grant money for major projects and expand the city's recycling program to condominiums and businesses.

In District 2, Marvin Merrill is defending his seat against challenger Gary Berkheimer.

Merrill, 63, was elected to the commission in 1990 and is running again because he, too, wants to complete programs that were started while he was in office. Merrill, a retired telephone company executive from Michigan, said he wants to continue to resist tax increases, continue programs to repave city streets and to improve sewer system.

Berkheimer, 40, is a political newcomer who said he thinks Merrill is dividing the community between the "haves and the have-nots." Berkheimer, a service technician with Sears, has said that if he is elected, he wants to provide residents with fairer representation. He also wants to expand the city's recycling program to condominiums and provide more open government.

The mayor and commissioners serve two-year terms. The mayor is paid $600 a month, and commissioners are paid $400 a month.

Redington Beach

In this town of 1,600, voters will not make a choice between candidates but will decide if it wants to keep its Police Department. The town shares the Redington Beaches Police Department with North Redington Beach. The department's budget, which is divided between the two towns, is $460,000. If the towns decide to contract with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, they would split the $276,000 cost.

The referendum is not binding should either of the towns vote down the referendum; the total cost of the Redington Beaches Police Department would be prohibitive for just one of the towns to assume.

North Redington


Voters in this town of 1,200 also will get a chance Tuesday to directly shape their police services and budget. A referendum on the Police Department asks the same question as the referendum in Redington Beach.

In North Redington Beach, however, voters also will select two commissioners.

Commission candidates David Yost and Don Suhadolnik say they favor retaining the current police arrangement. Candidates Ken McIntyre and Sal Crimi say they will follow voters' wishes either way.

Commissioners earn $100 a month and serve for two years.

A candidate for Seat 3 is McIntyre, 54, who moved to North Redington Beach six years ago after a 30-year career in the Army. He wants a balanced budget without dipping into reserve principal or interest.

His opponent, Yost, also 54, moved to North Redington Beach in 1984 after a career in advertising. He is a Realtor with West Shore Realty and was appointed to the commission in 1988 and has been elected twice. He serves as commissioner of public safety. He stands on his commission record of a "well-run town," including the "lowest tax ratio in Pinellas County," beach renourishment and a town park on the gulf.

For Seat 4, there's Crimi, 68, who retired from a career as a loan officer and credit manager and moved to Redington Beach 11 years ago. He says he will balance the town budget without dipping into reserves. Possibilities include freezing employee salaries, installing metered parking at the Bath Club concourse and examining budget line items such as money for culture and recreation.

Opposing Crimi is Suhadolnik, 55, who owns DPS computers, a marketing company that specializes in upgrading computer systems. He wants to use his business background to hold down budget costs. He also wants "unity in the town and on the board of commissioners."