Wednesday, November 14, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Temple Terrace Council: Incumbent Cheri Donohue wins re-election

  • With all 13 precincts reporting, incumbent Cheri Donohue has won re-election to the Temple Terrace City Council.
  • Newcomers Gil Schisler and James Chambers will take the other two spots that were up for grabs.
  • For more election results, check here.

Incumbent Cheri Donohue took 30 percent of the vote and won a second four-year term on the Temple Terrace Council, a mostly voluntary position that pays $3,470 per year and $50 a month in travel expenses.

Donohue, 69, said she was happy "that the citizens of Temple Terrace recognized that I have their best interests at heart."

She said she was "thrilled" with the make-up of the new council and looks forward to working with Gil Schisler and James Chambers.

Schisler and Chambers were elected with 26 and 23 percent of the vote, respectively, for the other two open seats. The winners  will replace Council Members David Pogorlich and Robert Boss, who were term-limited after each serving eight years on the council.

"I'm very elated, very proud," Schisler said. "It was a lot of hard work." He said he's eager to "work my platform, work out what I told people I'm going to do."

"I'm feeling extremely tired," said Chambers, noting he had put in long days of campaigning, "but extremely excited."

Retired businessman and contractor Don Statz, 67, lost the contest. He had 21 percent of the vote.

More than 17,000 residents out of a city of 25,000 cast votes in the race.

Schisler, 64, a retired accountant and corporate chief financial officer, served on the city's advisory committee to the Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club and the Charter Review Committee. He was praised by City Manager Charles Stephenson for his help last year in clearing up problems in the city budget following a change in finance directors.

Chambers, 62, touted his knowledge of the city, having served his entire career in the parks and recreation department, retiring as director of Leisure Services.

Schisler and Statz supported the charter amendment changes — including a changing the government structure — which voters passed. Donohue and Chambers opposed them. That appeared to be the main issue on which candidates disagreed. The candidates ran on what they would bring to the job and their records of service to the city.

The candidates agreed that the most pressing need is to sell off city-owned land in the downtown redevelopment area, which covers the east side of 56th Street from Bullard Parkway to the Hillsborough River. Money from the sale will be used to pay down the $23.5 million loan the city took out last decade to buy and improve the land.

Three developers have signed or plan to sign contracts to put in a bank, retail stores and luxury apartments.

The candidates all said that the city needs to raise the pay of its first responders, especially its police officers. The department is down a dozen positions.

Chambers said tax revenue from the downtown redevelopment area could be used to boost police pay and make the city competitive with cities of similar size. Schisler said it takes too long for Temple Terrace officers to rise to top salary. Statz said the city needs to find better insurance and better rates for the police.

Donohue said the city needs to stop cutting taxes – the council lowered the property tax rate for this fiscal year — when its workers lag behind in pay.

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