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Mayor to leave seat at end of term

(ran PC edition)

Charles McIntosh, 81, withdraws from the Dade City commission's April race, citing his wife's poor health as a reason.

Mayor Charles McIntosh on Monday announced he is withdrawing from April's City Commission race and will leave the commission after serving out his term.

McIntosh, 81, has been on the commission since 1985 and served as mayor from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1992 until now. He said Monday that his family discussed his bid for re-election over the weekend and considered his wife Virginia's ill health and decided another four-year commission term would be too difficult.

"I wouldn't be able to focus the attention I would want to on it," he said. "I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's been a great experience."

As McIntosh announced plans to step down, another candidate, former Commissioner Lowell Harris, picked up qualifying papers to run for the seat Monday.

Harris, a 65-year-old semiretired pharmacist, joined the commission in 1969 and served one term.

McIntosh had announced he would run but would not present himself as a candidate for mayor. In Dade City's form of government, voters elect five commissioners who then choose a mayor from their own ranks.

He said family concerns caused him to reconsider.

"An honest analyzation of our situation says that I cannot contribute as I would like to for the welfare of Dade City," McIntosh wrote in a prepared statement. "My wife and I have worked as a team for many years, and I must focus my attention on her welfare, as well as my own."

Reaction from fellow commissioners was sympathetic.

"It's been a tremendous pleasure working with Charles," Commissioner Gregg Lynch said. "He's been a good person to work with."

Lynch last month announced he also is stepping aside after his term expires this spring, citing the difficulty of serving the city while running a business and keeping up with family life.

Commissioner Bill Dennis said he was glad McIntosh reached a decision that was right for him.

"I'm sorry to see him go, but if that's what he wants, I'm glad for him," Dennis said. "It's hard for him to stop serving. He's that kind of person. It's hard for him to say, "I'm through.' "

Commissioner Eunice Penix, also facing re-election this year, said she has admired McIntosh's dedication.

"He is really concerned about Dade City; I enjoy that," she said. "He's concerned about the people and he's concerned about the city."

Harris said he waited until he was sure McIntosh had made his decision to step aside before committing himself to a run for the seat.

"I told Mac I would never run against him," he said Monday. "I have nothing but respect for him."

Harris moved to Dade City in 1960 after serving in the military and has lived there since.

He said he wants to continue the work commissioners have done to create a liveable, small town and wants to help attract clean industry and expand the city's boundaries. He said he also wants to work to improve recreational opportunities and local housing.

Harris has been active in the Boy Scouts for the past 35 years and has served on the city's planning commission and the Pasco County Housing Authority, as well as working with the Jaycees, Rotary and Habitat for Humanity.

The other announced candidate for McIntosh's seat, Kathy Lambert, said she felt that the city's unnamed "powers that be" forced McIntosh aside. She did not specifically name who might be behind an effort to remove the mayor.

"Basically the mayor not being allowed to run for commissioner for even one week shows that the politics of this town and the powers that be are deciding not only the mayor's future but the town's future. It's a shame that the mayor would not be allowed to run for commissioner after all he has done for this city," she said. "The mayor wanted to run. He's not running today, but he has until Feb. 8 to make his final decision."

McIntosh said his decision was his own and was based on no other factors but his family obligations.

As a child, McIntosh moved to Dade City with his family and lived here until he was called to serve the Army. He completed 28 years in the military and retired as a colonel in 1966, and then followed that with a second career in education. He served as an associate dean and dean of graduate studies at Syracuse University and then as dean of the college of business at the University of South Florida. He returned to Dade City in 1976.

McIntosh said he remembers as a youth helping to lay the bricks that cover Church Avenue and said he's generally pleased with the way Dade City evolved. He said he's left with some regrets, especially over not having been able to lure a variety of stores back downtown, including men's and women's clothing shops and a pharmacy.

Candidate filing

Candidates for the April 11 City Commission election may pick up the required paperwork at City Hall. The filing period runs from noon Feb. 8 to noon Feb. 15. Candidates must pay $37 in fees and 10 cents for each voter's signature submitted. Applicants must be residents of Dade City and must submit 20 verifiable signatures from registered Dade City voters to qualify. Three seats are up for election this year.