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Clearwater candidates featured at this week’s election forums

The mayoral forum Tuesday and City Council forum Wednesday both begin at 7 p.m. at the Clearwater Main Library.
There are 13 candidates running for three seats in the March 17 Clearwater City Council election. The city will host two forums this week. [TRACEY MCMANUS  |  TRACEY MCMANUS]
There are 13 candidates running for three seats in the March 17 Clearwater City Council election. The city will host two forums this week. [TRACEY MCMANUS | TRACEY MCMANUS]
Published Feb. 10
Updated Feb. 10

CLEARWATER — They’ve been canvassing neighborhoods, posting yard signs and pitching their platforms at community events. Now voters have another chance to see the four mayoral candidates and nine City Council candidates in action.

The City of Clearwater will host a forum featuring the mayoral candidates on Tuesday and a forum for Seats 2 and 3 on Wednesday. Both events begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the City Council chambers in the Main Library at 100 N Osceola Ave.

Former Bay News 9 Anchor Al Ruechel will moderate both forums.

The March 17 election features a crowded field of candidates. Running for mayor are: attorney and environmental activist Elizabeth ‘Sea Turtle’ Drayer, financial planner and former mayor Frank Hibbard, retired accountant and former four-term city council member Bill Jonson and business owner Morton Myers.

The Seat 2 City Council race features filmmaker and longtime Scientology critic Mark Bunker, business owner Mike Mannino, attorney Bruce Rector, retired technology supervisor Eliseo Santana and business owner Lina Teixeira.

Four candidates will compete for Seat 3: retired teacher Kathleen Beckman, incumbent Bob Cundiff, business owner Bud Elias and human resources director Scott Thomas.

The city will broadcast both forums live on the streaming video page at and the city’s Facebook page at It will also be shown on C-View TV, Clearwater’s cable access channel, on Spectrum (channel 638), Wow! (channel 15) and Frontier (channel 30).

Catch up on the races with previous coverage below. Make sure to pick up a copy of the Tampa Bay Times on Friday for a Know Your Candidates voter guide.

· Clearwater police, fire unions want ‘backs scratched’ this election

· Here’s where the money in the Clearwater election is coming from

· Where every Clearwater City Council candidate stands on Scientology

· In Clearwater, a new campaign pitch: City Council needs diversity

· A candidate with Scientology roots is running for Clearwater mayor

· A Florida woman wants a turtle to be mayor of Clearwater. She’s not kidding.

· He sat on Clearwater’s City Council for four terms. Now, Bill Jonson wants to be mayor.

· Frank Hibbard is running for mayor of Clearwater again. Here’s what he had to say about that.

· He has publicly criticized Scientology for decades. Now he’s running for Clearwater City Council.


  1. Luis Espel, 22, uses the Cass Street bike lane to commute to work in Tampa. Times (2019)
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
  3. Island Estates, a neighborhood in Clearwater Bay. There are three City Council races on this year's ballot as the city prepares for the realities of climate change.
  4. A school threat circulating among students and parents in East Lake and Tarpon Springs originated in Texas on Snapchat, authorities said.
  5. Chief executive officer Rich Hume (left) is expected to remain in place following the company's sale to Apollo Global Management, but he would be eligible for a golden parachute compensation of nearly $15.4 million after he is terminated. Former chief executive officer Bob Dutkowsky (right), the executive chairman of Tech Data’s board of directors, would receive $17.3 million if Apollo lets him go. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times (2018)
  6. Zion Cemetery disappeared in the late 1920s just as the new owner built a storefront on the land. Today, hundreds of graves lie beneath the property — home to public housing apartments, warehouses and a vehicle tow lot.
  7. Penny Padgett, sister-in-law of retired Hillsborough County Judge J. Rogers Padgett Sr., looks through family pictures at her Clearwater home. Rogers Padgett, at rear, and Chip Padgett are great-grandsons of former Clearwater Mayor Robert Padgett, who donated land for use as an African American cemetery.
  8. The Clearwater city elections are March 17. Check for everything you need to know about this year's races.
  9. Clearwater voters will decide six referendum questions in this year's election. For complete coverage of Clearwater's city elections, check
  10. The process for getting into a Pinellas County school choice program is in its final phase, the "acceptance period," which expires at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 for the 2020-21 academic year.
  11. Shareholders voted Wednesday to sell Tech Data, which employs about 2,000 of its 14,000 employees in the Tampa Bay area, to Apollo Global Management for $6 billion, or $145 per share. DIRK SHADD  |  Times (2019)
  12. Three of the four candidates for mayor oppose the amphitheater proposed for the downtown waterfront as part of the Imagine Clearwater project. The nine hopefuls running for two other council seats have varying stances on the issue. The election is on March 17.