Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

Largo Commissioners John  Carroll, Samantha Fenger, Donna Holk and  Michael Smith [City of Largo]
Largo Commissioners John Carroll, Samantha Fenger, Donna Holk and Michael Smith [City of Largo]
Published Aug. 10, 2018

LARGO — There will be no suspense in the city when elections arrive Nov. 6. In fact, there will be no election at all, because all four city commissioners whose seats were up were re-elected by default when no one came forward by the end of the candidate qualifying period to challenge them.

Michael Smith, Samantha Fenger, Donna Holck and John Carroll will serve another four years on the commission, which is comprised of six commissioners and the mayor, all of whom are elected in nonpartisan, at-large elections. The annual salary of each part-time commissioner is just over $15,000.

According to City Clerk Diane Bruner, the last time an entire election was canceled in Largo was 2004. It also means the city won't have to pay the approximately $6,500 the election was expected to cost.

Smith, who serves as vice mayor and is a Forward Pinellas board member, is a Largo native elected to the commission in 2011 and re-elected in 2014. He is a library assistant at the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library in Pinellas Park.

Fenger was elected to the commission in 2014. She was formerly a land use planner with Pinellas County and the city of Tampa and is a Realtor with Imapp Realty Group. She also serves on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Board of Directors.

Holck, formerly of West Islip, N.Y., was elected to the commission in 2014. She owned and operated Unique Nails Etc. for 20 years and owns DGH Tax Consulting. She also is a member of the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board.

Carroll, formerly of Oswego, N.Y., also was elected to the commission in 2014. He is an Army veteran and was a member of the Largo Police Department for 33 years, serving in many roles including chief. He currently is first vice president of the Suncoast League of Cities Board of Directors.

Here is what each had to say about what they hope to accomplish in the next four years:

John Carroll: I hope to continue the solid working relationships we have with fellow Largo commissioners and officials in neighboring communities. We can accomplish great things if we listen to our citizens, communicate effectively, and seek win-win solutions. This requires fostering and maintaining good relationships with elected officials at the county, state and federal level as well. Our involvement in the Florida League of Cities has allowed us to make great strides in this area. In order for us to effectively represent our citizens, we need to regularly review our oath of office, maintain a reputation for respect and cooperation, and be staunch defenders of Home Rule.

We have spent a great deal of time and effort developing and implementing a solid financial plan, strategic plan, rebranding and marketing plan, enhancing our outreach efforts, improving communication and creating a work environment of trust, respect and prudent risk taking. Long-range thinking and planning allow us to see beyond the next budget cycle or elected official's term. I see these efforts bearing fruit.

Donna Holck: I am looking forward to working with my fellow commissioners in moving Largo in a forward direction. I am excited about the development that is being done in the downtown area. It has been talked about for years and is finally coming to fruition.

Michael Smith: My top priorities will continue to be public safety, economic development/redevelopment, improving multimodal transportation, fostering cultural and recreational opportunities throughout the city, and get our citizens involved with what's happening in Largo. The key to a healthy functioning democracy is an active, vocal, and well-informed public.

Samantha Fenger: Priorities include ensuring sustainable growth, focus on affordable housing; promoting economic development while maintaining quality of life and providing the most efficient and effective city services.