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Ex-city worker joins mayoral race

Roy Burnside, a former building director for Zephyrhills who worked in the department for 10 years, is the third person to request papers for the election.

Afamiliar face around City Hall has joined the race to become Zephyrhills' next mayor.

Roy Burnside, who worked in the city's building department for 10 years until his retirement in 1996, pulled papers Monday signaling his intention to run for mayor.

Burnside joins two other candidates _ August M. "Mickey" McPhee, a former Publix store manager, and Mel Barrows, a retired minister _ in the battle for Mayor Jim Bailey's seat. Bailey announced last month that he is stepping down after eight years as the city's mayor to run for City Council.

Burnside, 75, moved to Zephyrhills from Wesley Chapel in 1983 after a long career with Borden's Dairy, where he worked in sales and management.

In December 1985 he went to work for the city as a building inspector. Five years later he was promoted to building director, overseeing code enforcement, permits, building inspections and licensing.

Since retiring, Burnside said he and his wife, Izzie, have been active members of the Methodist Nomads, traveling around the country rebuilding communities destroyed by natural disasters.

Burnside said he wants to be mayor of Zephyrhills to "help continue the progress the city already has underway."

He said the decade he spent working for the city gives him a unique understanding of Zephyrhills and its government.

His experience with Borden's also was helpful, he said, because it taught him the values of customer service. As mayor, he said, he would make sure residents are happy with how their town is run and see that their money is spent wisely.

"They are our bosses," he said of the city's residents. "I want to be sure we as a city are fair and honest."

Burnside said he also intends to look out for the city's workers.

"I want to see that city workers are happy," he said. "They're what keeps the city running."

Burnside said he opposes city councilman Tim Ippolito's suggestion that the city's charter be amended to eliminate the mayor's job, a largely ceremonial position with no voting power.

Ippolito's proposal, which is scheduled to be discussed by the council later this month, calls for the City Council to select the town's mayor from among the ranks of the five-member board.

Burnside said the city needs a non-voting mayor to act as an ambassador and to provide another voice at council meetings.

"I think the mayor's job has always been very important," he said.

The city's mayor and the members of City Council serve two-year terms and are paid $3,600 annually, plus travel expenses.

In addition to the mayor's position, two City Council seats will be on the April 11 ballot.

So far, no one has filed to run against Bailey for Seat 4. In the battle for Seat 2, Michael A. Bussell, a disabled veteran and former owner of a local shipping company, has pulled papers to challenge incumbent Elizabeth Geiger.

Aspiring candidates can pick up election papers in City Hall. The official filing period, also known as qualifying week, is Feb. 8-15.