TARPON SPRINGS — Former Mayor and City Commissioner David Archie will run for mayor again in the March election.
Mayor Chris Alahouzos, elected mayor in 2016 when Archie was prevented by term limits from running again, said he is looking forward to the election.
In addition to the mayor's seat, Seats 3 and 4 on the City Commission will also be on the ballot.
One possible issue in the mayoral contest is the amount of money the city paid for the Sunbay Motel in a bid to lower the crime rate in the West Tarpon Avenue area. Archie contends that there likely were more effective anti-crime measures than buying the motel, which over the years had been the source of numerous crime and code violation complaints.
Archie, a lifelong city resident, served several terms on the City Commission before being elected mayor in 2010. He was the first African-American to be elected mayor of any Pinellas County city.
The executive director of the nonprofit community group Citizens Alliance for Progress, Archie was automatically re-elected to a second term in 2013 when no one qualified to run against him.
In a news release announcing his candidacy, Archie said he had "some time to reflect on my service as Mayor and whether it helped the city progress."
"Many residents of Tarpon told me they thought I did a good job as mayor and urged me run again," Archie said.
In an interview, Archie, 65, sounded enthusiastic about re-entering the Tarpon Springs political scene.
"I tried to assess my effectiveness, make sure I had adequate time to do the job and try to see how we can make Tarpon Springs a better place," he said. "Hopefully, I can continue to be productive and continue to contribute to the community,"
In addition to his nearly 15 years on the City Commission dating back to the mid-1990s, Archie has served on numerous committees and boards, including Florida League of Mayors; Mayor's Council of Pinellas County; Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council; Metropolitan Planning Council; Pinellas Planning Council; the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority; WorkNet Pinellas and Pinellas Youth Development Committee. He also was a trustee on the Board of Directors for the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, a statewide organization.
Archie said successful local government requires everyone to work together and have an equal say.
"We represent all of Tarpon and when we make a decision, there's 25,000 people affected by what we do," he said. "I think what I bring to the table is a fairness, trying to be objective on every issue. If you come before the commission, you're going to be treated fairly. You might not always like the answer, but you will be given a fair chance."
Archie said he has great respect for Alahouzos and the other City Commission members but added he doesn't agree with their decision to pay $862,000 for the Sunbay.
"I don't like to criticize the commission, because everyone is doing the best they can, and I understand there was a problem with the motel," he said. "But $800,000 seems like a lot of taxpayer dollars to go towards that"
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Maybe that money could have been used for law enforcement to help put pressure on the property owner to clean the place up, he said.
When asked about running against Archie, a former Tarpon Springs High classmate, Alahouzos said he welcomed the challenge.
"I'm a worker. I work hard to provide the best services for the people of Tarpon Springs, and the reason I run is because I love to serve the people of Tarpon Springs," said Alahouzos, who defeated another former mayor, Frank DiDonato, in 2016.
Alahouzos said he has enjoyed working with the other city commissioners to accomplish things like funding infrastructure improvements and creating a senior information center at the Tarpon Springs library. He also cited in-the-works projects like the expansion of the city-owned Cycadia Cemetery and addressing the possible impact of sea level rise on the city.
Archie said regardless of whether he wins or loses, he will always love Tarpon Springs. "I won't be crushed. I'll always be David. Titles are temporary."