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CROZIER, BROWN MAY FACE CHALLENGERS TO KEEP SEATS

Commission hopefuls have until July 26 to qualify.

As the qualifying period for Largo City Commission candidates approaches, several city residents have picked up qualifying documents to challenge Vice Mayor Woody Brown and Commissioner Harriet Crozier, whose seats are up for election.

Brown and Crozier also have started gathering signatures to run for re-election.

To qualify, each candidate must submit a petition to the city clerk with 200 verified signatures from Largo residents.

Those petition forms have been available since May 26 and can be submitted to the city until July 26.

The city also requires candidates to register bank accounts for verification of campaign finance information.

According to city clerk Diane Bruner, four residents have indicated their interest in challenging the incumbents so far.

Possible candidates for Seat 6, held by Brown, include John Astanasio, the owner of Alba Consulting, a property management company; and Douglas Lardner, owner of Doug the Bug, a pest control company.

Retired electrical engineer Robert Hunsicker and Largo resident Robert Avery are contemplating a run for Seat 5, held by Crozier.

The field vying for the available seats could grow or shrink in the coming weeks. In past elections, prospective candidates have dropped out or failed to submit all of the required paperwork, while others have joined in the midst of the qualifying period.

Crozier is no stranger to running for election in Largo. Working as an office manager in her day job, she first served as a commissioner from 1993 through 1999. She was elected for a one-year term in 2000 and continued to be elected in each election through the decade.

Brown, a chiropractor who was first elected in 2007, is seeking his first re-election this year.

While Largo commissioners have traditionally been elected to three-year terms, the incoming class of commissioners could be the first to be elected to four-year terms.

City commissioners are contemplating extending terms to further space out election years and align the votes to presidential and countywide election years in an effort to increase turnout and save money with fewer elections.

Bruner said the current cost to hold an election in Largo is around $70,000.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

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The job

City commissioners are nonpartisan and serve three-year terms. Commissioners don't represent districts and are elected on a citywide basis. They set policy, approve the city budget, supervise the city manager and city attorney and make decisions regarding land use. They are paid $13,125 a year.

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