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"Mayor on the move' tours five town halls

(ran PC edition)

Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox on Wednesday swung through Pasco County in a race to visit all 405 cities in Florida.

He has until mid-August, when he will hand over the reigns as president of the Florida League of Cities to Dade City Mayor Scott Black.

Maddox, who is considering a run for governor, had visited 369 cities after Wednesday's town hall tours took him through Port Richey, Dade City, Zephyrhills, San Antonio and Saint Leo.

He sat down over a plate of fried green tomatoes at Kafe Kokopelli and talked about what he has learned during his yearlong "Mayor on the Move" project.

"It's been an education for me," said Maddox, 33. "I've seen things you would not believe. There's so much more to this state than the population centers. Wherever you go, you see that people have very diverse interests, but we all have problems in common."

Maddox waxes poetic about visits to places such as Weeki Wachee, population 12; or Carrabelle, where the police station is a phone booth.

He has managed much of the trip in a white Fleetwood motor home with his name, the Florida League of Cities logo and "Mayor on the Move" emblazoned on the sides.

Though the vehicle appears in perfectly good shape, Maddox says it is held together by duct tape and plywood. "It's broken down four times, caught on fire and been flooded."

Maddox, a Democrat, says he hasn't decided whether to make a run for the governorship.

"I seem to keep making the short list," he said. "I'm just glad they spell my name right."

But he certainly talks like a potential candidate. Between handshakes and bites of salad, Maddox is quick to criticize many of Jeb Bush's policies.

"I've been tough on the governor because he's been tough on cities with so many unfunded mandates," he said. "We have a faulty infrastructure all over Florida in roads, schools, water and sewers. And the state government is not keeping up its end of the bargain as far as funds."

Maddox's successor as president of the Florida League of Cities is unlikely to pick a high-profile project like trouncing around the state in a motor home.

And that's just fine by Dade City Mayor Scott Black, who in August will become the organization's first president from Pasco County.

"Every president has his own platform," said Black, who hosted Maddox during his county tour Wednesday. "Mine will be much more simple."

Black said he plans on touting the diversity of cities across the state and examining different communities to make him better at his job in Dade City.

"We are so unique and so diverse (in Florida), no two communities are alike," Black said. "But even though we are different, we face a lot of the same issues. It will be nice to learn about other options available to us out there."

As he was whisked away to the next city, then on to Sumter County today, Maddox thanked the local officials who showed up to welcome him.

"You've got some beautiful cities here," he said.

Black agreed. That's why he won't be venturing too far during the next year.

"As much as I'd like to do (a state tour)," Black said, "reality says I'll be spending a lot of time in Dade City."

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