PORT RICHEY – Yet another special election is upon the residents of Port Richey. They go to the polls next week to fill two City Council seats vacated in the wake of arrests earlier this year of the city’s mayor and vice mayor.
Interim City Council member Todd Maklary will face residents Tom Kinsella and Joseph Parisi in the Sept. 10 special election, with the top two vote-getters winning seats. They would fill the seats of former Vice Mayor Terry Rowe and Council member Richard Bloom.
Rowe resigned June 28 after authorities arrested him in March on conspiracy charges stemming from his recorded jail phone conversation with former Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad.
The former mayor made national headlines when he was jailed in February after the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said he fired a gun at deputies serving a warrant at Massad’s home. Authorities say Massad and Rowe discussed a Port Richey police officer during their call, who was involved in an investigation that led to a charge against Massad of practicing medicine without a license.
Bloom’s seat became vacant when he resigned to run in a June special election to fill Massad’s seat, a losing effort to current Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay.
Maklary, 42, a commercial real estate project manager, has been serving in Bloom’s seat since June when the City Council appointed him on an interim basis. Prior to that appointment, Maklary also ran in the mayoral special election, coming in third in a five-candidate race.
During his run for mayor, Maklary stressed his business acumen and integrity, a platform he said has not changed in his run for the council. He said he believes those qualities will be an asset to the city, if elected, and said he has proven himself while working on the budget this summer.
“I really believe that Port Richey is the jewel of Pasco County, and we have done a lot of work recently to change the tone and restore integrity to our government,” Maklary said.
Kinsella, 67, is a former St. Petersburg police officer who moved to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, where he retired as a sergeant after 20 years with the agency. He finished his career in law enforcement serving overseas with the United Nations International Police Task Force. Currently, he is manager of the Safety and Security Department at Moffitt Cancer Center.
Serving on the Port Richey Citizens Advisory Committee also has been rewarding, Kinsella said, especially his interaction with staff members. They do incredible work and have been unfairly painted by the cloud of scandal brought on with the arrests of the mayor and vice mayor. He said he wants to take a deeper look at canal dredging and flooding in the city, and wants to boost morale among staff.
“Our employees are literally the backbone of our city, and I want to do what I can for them so they can continue to do the great job they do for our residents,” he said. “I am really impressed with the new mayor, and I am very excited for our city.”
Joseph Parisi, 60, also has a background in business and law enforcement, first managing a grocery chain before entering a career in law enforcement outside Chicago. He retired four years ago as a lieutenant after 20 years on the Elmwood Park police force in Illinois.
Parisi said his experience managing store budgets will bring fiscal sense to the council, and his background in law enforcement offers stability and integrity. If elected, Parisi said his main focus will be on addressing the city’s flooding problems and the waterfront. He said he wants to work on lighting, sidewalks and bringing more businesses to the city’s waterfront district.
“That is our pride and joy right there. Nobody has a waterfront like we do,” he said.
Tuesday’s winners will finish the remaining 18 months left on three-year terms until the city’s April 2021 election.