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On merger, Port Richey gives emphatic "no' // NEW PORT RICHEY

Incumbents Heather Fiorentino and Edward "Ted" Thomas easily won re-election to the City Council on Tuesday. Also elected was political newcomer Scott Bryant, a college student who has never held office.

Fiorentino, an elementary school teacher who was elected to the council in 1993, got the highest number of votes, followed by fellow incumbent Thomas and Bryant, a 26-year-old premed senior at the University of South Florida.

"I'm very excited," Bryant said Tuesday night. "I've heard that your first election is the hardest, and I'm grateful to the people of New Port Richey who have seen past the age factor and elected me."

Bryant got only slightly more votes than Ron Ryner, a retired public relations man who made his second unsuccessful attempt at a council seat. Perennial candidate Frank Janczlik had the lowest number of votes among the five candidates, who were seeking three open seats.

Fiorentino, 39, touted her conservative spending approach and campaigned on extending road and sidewalk improvements to neighborhoods outside downtown and improving city code enforcement.

Thomas, 50, said the results showed voters' support for the city's streetscaping and other projects.

"I'm pleased that at least the progress we've made has been well received by the community," he said.

In his campaign, Thomas said he favored developing a mission statement for the city, continued improvement in stormwater drainage and roads, and the completion of city park projects. He also wants the city to explore the idea of developing its own fiber-optic cable system.

Bryant said he ran because he wanted to serve his community and because of the shortage of qualified candidates.

He said he favored working with local youth to curb juvenile crime in the city and providing more city playgrounds.

Janczlik, an 82-year-old semi-retired builder who wanted the city's blessing to build a desalination plant, was not surprised.

"I really knew that I was not going to win, sir, although I know what the desalination procedure is," he said.

Ryner, 68, touted his business experience and said he would work to improve the whole city, not just downtown.

"I guess there are a lot of people who believe the St. Pete Times," Ryner said. "I worked, and I had a platform, and I did things, and Mr. Bryant did absolutely nothing other than rely on the endorsement of the Times."

The three council members will serve two-year terms on the council and will be paid $300 a month.

One of the three vacant seats had been held by Wendy Brenner, who could not seek re-election because of the city's rule on term limits.

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