QUESTION OF TRUST: For all the progress the incumbent cites, her challenger says the City Council lacks credibility.
By RAGHURAM VADAREVU
Published October 26, 2004
City Council Chairwoman Kitty Ebert sees plenty of progress over the past two years.
The annexation of 500-plus acres of land south of the city limits has increased city coffers and helped officials lower the tax rate, Ebert said.
And the city staff, she said, is more professional and is completing long-delayed tasks.
"A lot of things have happened, and I want to be there (as it continues). It would be fun and productive," said Ebert, who is seeking her fourth term and running for re-election to council Seat 5.
Opponent Jim Farley, a former city police chief, has a different view of city government: Businesses, service clubs, charitable organizations and residents do not trust or respect either the government or the council, he said.
"I believe I'm the person who can" restore respect and credibility, he said.
Farley said he would dedicate himself to improving relationships with the county, the chamber of commerce and veterans in Citrus County.
The last was a reference to the council's October 2003 decision to prevent a veterans' group, the Fallen Heroes of Citrus County, from placing a war memorial on city property. The group wanted to put seven flags on their memorial - that was too many, according to the city's sign ordinance.
The council ultimately voted 3-2 against changing the sign rule. The angered group took its memorial to the county, which cleared the path for it to be constructed at Bicentennial Park, just outside the Crystal River city limits. It was dedicated with seven flags in December 2003.
"We lost a golden opportunity to honor our veterans," Farley said.
Farley left a year ago after four years with the city. The final months of his tenure, however, were filled with division: Four officers and staff members filed lawsuits against him.
"The allegations were fraudulent," Farley said, adding that they all have been dismissed in court.
As for Ebert, she said the city still has much to do, including adopting a land development code and continuing to make the government more "citizen friendly."
"We need to polish some of those things," Ebert said.
Crystal River City Council members are elected citywide and serve four-year terms. They set policy for the city and earn $5,428.44 per year.
KITTY EBERT , 71, was first elected to the City Council in 1989 and has held the post from 1996 to 1997 and 2001 to 2004. Born in Detroit, she graduated from Garden City High School and later from the Washington School for Secretaries. She traveled with her husband, who was in the Navy, around the world for 33 years. She worked in various jobs, including as a department store cosmetics saleswoman and a part-time fashion coordinator. They moved to Crystal River in 1986. She restarted Crystal River Neighborhood Watch in 1989 and worked on many beautification projects throughout the city. Ebert is married and has four children. ASSETS: property, stocks, investments and money market account. LIABILITIES: none reported. SOURCES OF INCOME: Social Security.
JIM FARLEY, 59, retired as Crystal River police chief in 2003 after four years of service. Born in New York, he graduated from Cohasset High School and later from Broward Community College and Barry University. He served in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department from 1967 to 1993, when he left as a captain and moved to the Broward County Sheriff's Office. He moved to Crystal River in 1999. Farley is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Audubon Society, the Citrus County Veterans Coalition and Kings Bay Rotary. He volunteers with the Nature Coast Volunteer Center. He is married and has three children. ASSETS: investments. LIABILITIES: none reported. SOURCE OF INCOME: retirement accounts.