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2nd person enters commissioner's race

A second candidate is entering the race to fill permanently a vacant seat on the City Commission.

Bill Kirbas, a 68-year-old financial planner from Clearwater Beach, initiated his candidacy Monday by opening a campaign account and naming a treasurer.

Kirbas joins Bob Clark, the owner of a Clearwater printing business who announced his candidacy in early June. Both are vying to replace Mike Dallmann, who was elected to a three-year term in March but resigned several weeks later citing personal reasons.

A special election has been scheduled for Oct. 24.

Kirbas said that he decided to run in March but that his decision was not related to Dallmann's resignation. At the time, he said, he was planning for the 1996 election. Then Dallmann's seat opened.

"I guess it's the old adage: putting something back into the community," Kirbas said of his decision. "It's just about that time."

He said he has not selected a campaign manager or devised a platform but listed his positions on several issues at City Hall.

He said he would support efforts to build a new Memorial Causeway Bridge as soon as possible, and he favors a proposed alignment for the bridge that ties into Pierce Boulevard.

"Putting it off isn't going to solve the problem," Kirbas said.

He said the city should complete the controversial Harborview Center, a downtown conference center, and concentrate on making it a success.

He also favors the proposed downtown lake, a project that city officials hope will attract development and, at the same time, help dispose of downtown stormwater.

Kirbas said land for development in Clearwater is limited, so the city must concentrate on increasing the value of depressed areas.

"We've got to do with what we've got," he said, citing the need for the city to invest in downtown.

"I'm not averse to spending money," he said. "I'm in business. I know successful companies reinvest."

Kirbas was the founding president of the Jolley Trolley, a private organization that in 1994 took over a beach and downtown trolley service from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. He remains a member of the organization.

He is a former president of the Clearwater Beach Association and was chairman of a civic group in the early 1980s that pushed for beautification of Memorial Causeway. He also is a member of the city's Parks and Recreation Board.

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