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Dunedin may forgo election for commission

With three days left to qualify for the upcoming election, the city may cancel the March race altogether.

Neither Commissioners Bob Hackworth nor Deborah Kynes, who are both running for re-election, have opponents.

"We have never had this," said Jerie Guegan, city clerk. "We have always had an election. I would have to assume we would just reappoint them."

It appears Dunedin has come down with the same case of political apathy that Clearwater had. There, Mayor Frank Hibbard and council members Hoyt Hamilton and John Doran were all elected without opposition.

Guegan said Tuesday no one else has even picked up candidate packets. Two people who had considered running returned their packets. Commissioners serve three-year terms.

And even if someone got a packet, he or she would have to open a campaign account, get 150 signatures from registered voters and have it all approved by the supervisor of elections before Friday's noon deadline.

"They would really be scrambling to get everything done," Guegan said.

But both Kynes and Hackworth said they are ready to campaign anyway. They have raised money for signs and brochures, though they have yet to order them. Kynes even had a campaign kickoff party last month.

"I can't predict the future between now and Friday," Kynes said. "I have done my groundwork. I have wonderful support. I'm ready, willing and able to run a strong race."

Hackworth said he was "somewhat disappointed" that more people weren't interested in running.

"On the other hand, I hope there's at least a little bit that recognizes I have done a good job, too," he said. "I have been ready for a campaign. If there isn't one, I'm ready to go to work and do my job and serve the people."

People can only speculate why interest in serving in public office is so low.

Maybe people are worn out from the November elections, Hackworth suggested.

Mayor John Doglione said perhaps people are content with the state of the city.

"I really don't know," he said. "I know there's good folks out there, but I just think everybody sits back and says, "Hey, things are going well in the city of Dunedin.' "

Doglione ran unopposed for mayor in 2003. But there were six people vying for two commission seats, so there was an election and plenty of campaigning.

"I had to plan that someone was going to challenge, so I set everything up, short of committing funds to buy signs and brochures," he said. "I went to all the forums and just made a short opening statement. The difference being there, we still had an election."

Kynes, 54, a lawyer, is seeking a third term on the commission. She plans to continue addressing drainage issues in Cedar and Curlew Creeks and making improvements to the south side of Dunedin.

She also wants to see the city form a committee similar to the Dunedin Inclusion Task Force, which was formed to come up with ways to embrace and promote diversity in the city. The task force came up with five recommendations for Dunedin, including naming a building and street after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I love what I do," she said. "It's people and issues and ever so often you feel like you are really doing something for the betterment of the community."

Hackworth, a businessman, is seeking a second term on the commission. He wants to continue focusing on fiscal responsibility. He voted against the budget this year because expenditures exceeded revenues.

"I think that I have brought a sense of fiscal responsibility and restraint to spending," he said. "I want to take a hard look at that process and make sure that government is every bit as efficient and effective as it should be."

Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4167 or mscottsptimes.com.

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