CLEARWATER — Voters will do more than just pick a new mayor and two City Council members on March 17.
They will be electing officials who will navigate several critical issues in 2020: The next City Council will decide the fate of the Imagine Clearwater project, choose a new city manager, address climate change and manage the city’s relationship with the Church of Scientology. Voters will also be asked to decide six referendum questions on the ballot.
Election day is March 17, the same day as Florida’s Democratic primary in Florida. But residents can vote right now. Mail ballots went out Tuesday. Voters can click here to request one, email MailBallot@VotePinellas.com or call (727) 464-8683.
Early voting starts March 7 and goes through March 15. Clearwater’s early voting site is inside the Pinellas County Courthouse at 315 Court St. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekend. Parking spots will be set aside for early voting.
Clearwater’s mayor and City Council members serve four-year terms. In the city manager system, the mayor is one vote on the five-member council. The mayor earns $27,546 annually. The four council members earn $22,955 annually. To contact the campaigns directly, check out the city’s election website.
The Tampa Bay Times asked all 13 candidates to share their views on nine major issues. For each question, swipe right and left to see each candidate’s response word-for-word (though edited for clarity).
1. Please describe your top three priorities as a city council member.
2. Do you support or oppose the Imagine Clearwater project, and how would you recommend adjusting it? Where would you find the rest of the money to fully fund the project?
3. How should the Harborview site and the City Hall site be redeveloped?
4. What would be your approach to dealing with the Church of Scientology?
5. Do you support the city’s current proposal to fund a renovation of the Phillies stadium and Carpenter Field through a $13.7 million state grant, $16 million of Penny for Pinellas revenue, $40 million of county bed taxes, and with the team paying $10 million plus overruns?
6. Assess the performance of City Manager Bill Horne, and what qualities would you look for in his successor?
7. Assess the performance of the Clearwater Police Department, whether staffing is adequate, and whether officers should wear body cameras.
8. How would you push to improve the city’s efforts regarding resiliency and climate change?
9. What should the City Council be doing differently when it comes to creating more affordable housing?