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Ferdinand could be faith healer the city needs

The immediate task for the Port Richey City Council is to fill the vacancy created by Robert Leggiere's resignation to make an unsuccessful run for mayor. The long-term agenda is to restore public faith in the city's government.

Leggiere's defeat last week to Eloise Taylor, by an 18-percent margin, is a clear signal the electorate doesn't like the way the city is conducting business. Taylor, the former city attorney, campaigned exclusively as a good government candidate. She will be sworn in tonight.

Council members Tom Brown and Joseph Menicola, who voiced public support for the controversial Leggiere and socialized with him after council meetings regardless of the appearances of impropriety, should take note of those election results.

They can take a giant step toward rebuilding public confidence in the city government by selecting Eileen Ferdinand to fill the remainder of Leggiere's term. Ferdinand, the former mayor, resigned in June to run for County Commission. She lost in a Democratic primary last week.

Ferdinand has many strong attributes, not the least of which is five years' experience on the council. She led the council opposition to the ill-advised pursuit of an overpriced Lindrick Service Corp. and put the brakes on an attempt to put an incinerator near the Gateway Mobile Home Park.

Likewise, unlike Leggiere, she timed her departure so voters could pick her successor at little cost to the city since the special election coincided with the Sept. 5 primary. Leggiere, incidentally, said he would not take a council appointment if he lost the mayor's race.

"Port Richey has been my baby," Ferdinand said Friday. "If they offered, I guess I would accept."

That's good news for city residents, particularly those who want a city staff accountable for its performance and a professionally run government free from council interference in day to day affairs.

Ferdinand and Taylor can provide leadership for Port Richey and help put an end to the boys' club clique at City Hall and at the Seaside Inn.