EDITOR'S NOTE: The following letter is Largo Mayor Bob Jackson's response to the St. Petersburg Times' recommendation of his opponent, Pat Gerard, in the March 7 city election.
I thank the Times for the opportunity to respond to its recent editorial. For the past elections, the Times has endorsed my candidacy with some glowing accolades. I was proud of its endorsement in my first mayoral race in 2000 and in my 2003 re-election campaign.
Apparently, my vote against the human rights ordinance and my votes against tax increases in 2004 and 2005 have not met with the Times' approval. I told the editor in my interview that I thought the human rights ordinance went too far and was not supported by Largo citizens and business owners.
I am not opposed to tax increases to provide superior services. I am opposed to tax increases solely for the purpose of building a larger budget surplus. It has always been my feeling that government should tax citizens only to meet the needs of residents. Our taxes were sufficient to fund all city services. The staff projected a $6-million carry-over, which is more than 10 percent of the operating budget.
I am proud of the progress that Largo has made during my term as mayor. The new library; skateboard, Datsko and nature parks; a fire training tower; a $4-million police computer system; Channel 1, McKay Creek and Church Creek drainage projects; golf course rebuilding; $783-million of newly annexed property; attracting a downtown motel; and a building permit value increase from $51-million in 2002 to $172-million in 2005 serve as examples of real progress under my tenure as mayor. In 2003, Money Magazine named Largo one of the 10 most livable cities in America, and we continue to improve the city.
It has been an incredible honor to serve the citizens of Largo. I would be proud to serve as your mayor another term.
Bob Jackson, Largo mayor