Seminole City Council

Two incumbents, one experienced candidate and one newcomer are vying for two seats on the Seminole City Council. Voters can select up to two candidates in the citywide, nonpartisan election on Tuesday, Nov. 7. The top two vote-getters will take office. Also on the ballot is a countywide referendum for the renewal of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax.

Donna Winchester, Times correspondent

Tom ChristyRoger EdelmanBob MatthewsJoseph E. Pacelli
About the candidate Christy, 66, is making his eighth run for a council seat. A semi-retired delivery driver for FedEx Ground in Tampa, he earned a bachelor's degree in management from Bryant and Stratton College in Buffalo, N.Y. He has been a Seminole resident since 2005. Christy served on the Tonawanda, N.Y., City Council from 1990-95 and was co-chair of Seminole's charter review commission in 2009-10. He is a member of Blessed Sacrament Church. Edelman, 75, is seeking a second term on the council. He studied business at the University of Cincinnati and retired as a sales manager for a Fortune 500 printing, publishing and manufacturing company in Chicago. He has been a Seminole resident since 1985. Edelman is president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, a member of the board of directors of Heavendropt, a nonprofit for veterans and disabled persons; and a former board member of PARC. Matthews, 73, has served on the council since 1990 with the exception of eight months in 2006. He studied electronics at Pinellas Technical Education Center and retired after 32 years as an instrument technician for Florida Power. He has been a Seminole resident since 1979 and owns and operates Seminole Garden Florist & Party Store. Matthews has served on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council since 1995 and is a member of the Rotary Club of Seminole and Starkey Road Baptist Church.Pacelli, 55, (no photo available) is making his first run for City Council. He earned bachelor's degrees in international relations from Syracuse University and film studies from the University of Central Florida and attended American International Medical University. Pacelli served for eight years in the U.S. Navy and is a member of American Legion Post 252. A licensed general contractor, he has been a Seminole resident since 2012.
Why are you interested in serving on the council?I think we need a little forward thinking on the council. We're growing all the time. I've been here almost 10 years and I'd like to bring a little foresight from my years of experience in public life.There are still things we need to do, such as completing the Seminole City Center and the waterfront park projects. We have work to do on Blossom Lake Park and we have issues with traffic control. I would like to see those things get finished.The city is like family to me. I have a desire to be part of the community and to work to continue making it the place where I want to live.After recovering from surgery for a brain tumor in July 2016, I decided I wanted to do something that would be of service, and this seemed like a good opportunity to get involved.
What especially qualifies you to be a council member?I have experience as a council member in New York and a history of attending Seminole council meetings. I've also been a longtime community activist, championing for traffic lights and better traffic control.I have a lot of business experience. My association with the Chamber of Commerce has given me the chance to meet and get to know a lot of people. And, I've been in the community for 32 years.I'm not one to be wishy-washy; I stick to my guns. I've been here a long time, and my history of being on the council is valuable. I know what we've done in the past and how we've done it. I'm also qualified in money management. I have experience with financial management and I'm knowledgeable about business regulation issues. I also have held real estate licenses in Florida and North Carolina. Additionally, I have experience working with various constituencies as a result of working as an aide for a New York state assembly member.
What issues would you address as a council member?I would work to keep the tax rate low by streamlining city services. I would improve cooperation between the city and the county. I would develop an annexation strategy and I would institute a study to examine the possibility of creating a city police department to combat rising crime.I want to continue to offer the citizens of Seminole the services they've had in the past, keep the tax rate as low as possible and maintain a balanced budget. I would like to see us manage our infrastructure better so we can move traffic more efficiently and expand our recreation services. I'd also like to make sure we have the ability to assist with evacuation from nursing homes in emergencies like the recent hurricane.I have two main priorities: spending the taxpayers' money responsibly, as if it were my own, to get the best deal for the best price; and continuing to use Penny for Pinellas money wisely. Additionally, I'd like to look at further developing recreation opportunities like the waterfront park and continuing our partnerships with St. Petersburg College and the Seminole Chamber of Commerce.I think Seminole is well run, but there are some things that could be done a little better. One thing I found lacking in the aftermath of the recent storm was a shortage of adequate shelter for people with special needs. We need to find a way to identify those people ahead of time and then check to make sure they're being taken care of.
What do you consider the city's primary strengths?Seminole is financially sound. It has a strong fire department and is aesthetically pleasing.

About the job: City Council members serve three-year terms and are paid $8,200 a year. The seven-member council, which meets at least twice a month, is responsible for setting policy and passing an annual budget.