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Veteran commissioner re-elected // TREASURE ISLAND

Published Jul. 6, 2006

Voters on Tuesday handed Commissioner Julian W. Fant, who has been city commissioner and mayor for 23 years, his 13th term on the City Commission.

"I'm proud of it, and I certainly couldn't have done it without the support of my wife, my children and a number of dedicated campaign workers," said Fant, 64.

In Tuesday's election, Fant defeated Irving "Butch" Ellsworth, 49, by a narrow margin in the heated bid for the District 2 post, which pays $3,600 a year.

Fant collected 54 percent of the votes; Ellsworth, 45.5 percent. A total of 1,228 ballots were cast, but only residents in District 2 voted in the commission race.

Ellsworth, manager of Kingfish Wharf in Treasure Island, also ran against Fant in 1994 but lost. He indicated that he will not seek political office again.

Voters in Treasure Island also approved two citywide referendums by landslides. The mayor's term will be extended from two to three years, and a candidate running for municipal office must receive a majority of votes to capture a seat.

Ellsworth ran his campaign, saying it was time for a change. He said the City Commission was stagnant and needed new ideas.

"I ran a nice, clean race. I ran as hard as I could," Ellsworth said. "Hey, he just beat me. That's all."

Fant, a former bank executive and chamber of commerce director, said he will push for beach renourishment and a new city hall and work to offer reclaimed water to residents.