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NORTH REDINGTON BEACH // Varidian tops four-time candidate

(ran Beach edition)

Voters once again denied longtime community activist Sal Crimi a seat on the town's commission Tuesday, electing instead Carl Varadian, a virtual unknown.

Varadian, 66, ran a low-key campaign, even taking a week off for a cruise in the middle of it, yet still managed to handily beat Crimi for Seat 2. This was Crimi's fourth try at public office in five years.

"It's kind of a surprise. I'm grateful to the people here and I'm going to work hard," Varadian said Tuesday night.

After the votes were counted, Crimi said this was the last race for him. "No way" was his response to another campaign.

Crimi, 71, was bitter over what he called dirty politics in this tiny beach community. He said some current commissioners had used their influence to sway voters against him.

However, he bore no ill will toward Varadian. "I'm not sorry I lost to him. He's a good man. I told him, "If I lose, I'll be glad to be losing to you,' " Crimi said.

Varadian, too, had praise for his opponent: "I got to appreciate Sal Crimi and if it had been the other way I would have cooperated with him. He does have the community at heart."

Varadian has lived here full time for only two years. Yet during the campaign he made no secret of or apologized for his newcomer status. He said the key to his victory is his lengthy resume of government work.

He worked for 28 years for the federal government as a housing specialist and negotiating construction projects. He also has taught government part-time on the college level for 21 years. He worked as an assistant to the mayor of Flint, Mich., developing economic programs, and was city manager in Lyons, Ill., and assistant city manager in Elmhurst, Ill., in the mid-1960s.

On Tuesday, he said one of his first priorities on the commission will be to look hard at a proposed new fire station and make sure the project is done efficiently.

Voters also overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the mayor's salary from $200 to $600 a month and commissioners' salaries from $100 to $300.