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Six in running for three seats

Carson Mason decided at the last minute that he wasn't interested in a second term on the Crystal River City Council _ at least not right now.

Although Mason was one of the first to file the paperwork to get on the city's Dec. 13 ballot earlier this week, he withdrew before Friday's qualifying deadline.

His departure means city voters will have to choose between two candidates in each of the three races this year: the mayor's race and two council seats.

There are also eight questions about changes in the city charter that residents will be asked on Election Day.

Mason, 65, said Friday that he "just decided against it so I withdrew."

Of his two years on the council, Mason said, "I've enjoyed it. It's been different."

Known for his utilities expertise acquired during years as the city's chief sewer plant operator, Mason was also one of the first council members to criticize former city manager Terry Leary for her handling of personnel matters.

"I'm just going to get out of this thing and let those other two guys go," he said. "I've got other things I'd rather be doing, rather than beating the bushes. I wish them both well."

Seeking the seat Mason will vacate are Sid Kennedy, a 14-year veteran of the council, and George Otto, a council regular who for eight years has represented the Woodland Estates area whenever it needed representation before the council.

Kennedy, 54, vacated the same seat he now seeks two years ago to run for County Commission. He lost that bid to another former City Council member, Frank Schiraldi.

Otto, who is 73 and retired, said he was running because "I figured I've got the time to do it. I have no encumbrances of any job or any school and I'm not in it for the money. . . .

"I just want to get in there and do what I can for the city."

In the other council race, incumbent Joan Ogle will take on Joseph Chrietzberg.

Ogle, who is 57 and a retired telephone company supervisor, has said she wants to win a second term on the council to complete many unfinished tasks and to make the city more attractive.

Chrietzberg, 55, is the vice president and finance officer of a Tampa-based contractor. His wife, the former Mary O'Brien, is a native of Crystal River and the two built their current home in town two years ago.

Chrietzberg, like Ogle, says he wants to help shape the community's future.

In the mayor's race, two-term incumbent Curtis Rich, 65, will face area businessman Ron Kitchen.

Kitchen, 38, had hoped to be running for the seat at the same time Rich was retiring the job. But Rich decided that he wanted a third term to complete some tasks he began. Kitchen said he had come to like the thought of contributing to the city as mayor so much that he decided to run anyway.

The council jobs and the mayor's position each carry a two-year term and an annual salary of $5,067.60. The candidates run citywide in non-partisan races.

One of the charter change questions on the ballot is whether to extend the term of council and mayor to four years. If that measure passes, it will not effect those elected this year.

Other charter questions facing voters include whether the mayor, who does not have voting power but who can veto an ordinance, can cast a deciding vote when the council is tied.

Other possible changes to be put to voters include specifying that the mayor make the State of the City address to the council at a regular meeting each January and allowing the city's advisory committee member to serve longer than two terms with a four-fifths vote of the council.

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