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Race for taxing district seats ends in round 1

One candidate drops out because of a lack of time; another fails to qualify by the deadline.

By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 28, 2002


TAMPA PALMS -- The campaign for two open Tampa Palms taxing district seats ended before it began Friday when two of the four candidates were eliminated from the race.

Patricia Maney of Wyndham -- who filed for Seat 1 on the Community Development District -- lost her challenger, Jim Coolidge of Treemont, earlier this month when he withdrew from the race, citing a lack of time.

Gene Field of Asbury was campaigning for Seat 2. But, although he filed to run, incumbent Mark Hensleigh did not qualify by the July 26 noon deadline, said officials with the Supervisor of Elections Office. Elected in 1998, Hensleigh lives in The Reserve. He could not be reached for comment Friday but had expressed hesitation earlier about running again.

Field said he looked forward to joining the board. "I threw my name into the hat because I thought it was a job I could do well, and I have the time," he said.

Tampa Palms supervisors meet each month and are paid $2,400 annually.

Candidates for the two seats have agreed on two things: Tampa Palms is in the midst of a major transition, and a change in leadership must accompany it.

Some said that change required retired and semiretired candidates who could devote more time and expertise in guiding the district. They spoke of the need for a board free to spend less time with kids and careers and willing to do work and research.

Others said the board needed younger, family-oriented supervisors interested in enhancing community atmosphere and property values.

The November election for the open seats on the five-member board could have been key in determining what voters saw as top community priorities.

Coolidge, 53, said his decision came despite the urging of some younger families to campaign.

"I own a real estate company and the amount of time it would take to devote to run and accomplish my goals on the CDD I don't have," he said. He had pledged to support family oriented-issues such as parks and sidewalks, jogging paths and community meeting places. "When landscaping is the most important priority out there and the only priority out there, I just feel like something is wrong," he Coolidge said.

His opponent, 64-year-old Maney, announced her bid early, promising to promote a more resident-friendly and research-oriented atmosphere.

She will replace Curtis Stokes, who stepped down to run for an at-large City Council seat.

"My keyword is revitalization of the community in a fiscally responsible manner," she said. "I want to see more preplanning ... rather than dealing with things as they come up."

Field, who is semi-retired at 63, is a member of Resource Tampa Palms, a volunteer resident group consisting largely of corporate executives.

All of the current supervisors are under 55 years old.

"The Tampa Palms CDD should be a working board, yet they're employed full time and a lot of them have families," Field said.

With an overhaul of the community's landscaping, "we've moved away from what what we've always done for the past 15 years," he said. "We need to be a change agent."

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