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4 file to run for Salley's board seat

The filing deadline for candidates seeking to finish Dudley Salley's term on the City Commission closed Friday with four people qualifying for the Sept. 3 ballot.

The candidates include three who previously have announced that they are in the race: David Archie, Blaine LeCouris and Helene Pierce. Joining them on the ballot will be political newcomer Harold F. Johnson, a 70-year-old retiree.

"I thought we needed some different blood, some young blood," Johnson said this week.

The four will vie to fill out the term of Salley, who resigned July 9, citing unfavorable media coverage. The election winner will serve on the commission until 1998, earning $6,000 a year.

The City Commission election will be held in conjunction with the countywide primary Sept. 3. The commission election will be the only Tarpon Springs item on the ballot, said City Clerk Kathy Alesafis.

The four candidates qualified during a filing period that was among the shortest in the city's history. Salley's surprise resignation and a printing deadline for the Pinellas County supervisor of elections office gave prospective candidates only three days to formalize their intentions.

The qualifying period began at 8 a.m. Wednesday and closed at 5 p.m. Friday.

Johnson, running his first campaign, said he has long considered seeking elected office. "I'm a little bit unhappy about some of what government has done, and I figure I can't do anything about it sitting at home watching TV," he said.

Johnson said he has no particular problems with Tarpon Springs city government. "I just want to get involved," he said.

A longtime property owner in Tarpon Springs, Johnson has lived here full time since 1974. He said he was a registered nurse for 17 years in the Air Force and later was a business adviser to U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor.

Of the four candidates, two are former members of the commission. Pierce, 58, narrowly lost her commission seat in March. She is a social worker for the Pinellas County school system.

LeCouris, 73, was a commissioner from 1991 until he resigned to run for mayor last year. He is a one-time Tarpon Springs city manager and its former police chief.

Archie, 43, is executive director of Citizens Alliance for Progress, a group that provides social services to area residents. He also is vice president of the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas branch of the NAACP.