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Council posts won by default

Oldsmar candidates for three spots draw no opposition. The only choice voters will confront in March is for Seat 1.

Published January 9, 2007


OLDSMAR - Four of five City Council seats are open for the March election, but a low turnout of candidates has resulted in just one contested race.

The city's qualifying period ended Friday and candidates who qualified to run for office were announced Monday.

Former council member Loretta Wyandt, 75, and high school teacher Greg Rublee, 42, will vie for Seat 1, which has two years left on its three year term.

The current occupant, Jim Ronecker, 42, will leave the seat to run for mayor. Ronecker, owner of On Demand Printing, faces no challengers and will likely replace Mayor Jerry Beverland, who cannot run again because of term limits.

Ronecker said he wants the city to continue to grow and to "grow smartly." He said the city's pursuit of an independent water system, a $16.5-million project, will be a major issue.

Council member Suzanne Vale, 49, a processor for a mortgage company, is running unopposed for another term in Seat 2. She has been passionate about the state's insurance crisis. She chairs the insurance committee for the Suncoast League of Cities.

She said she wants to work on preserving park lands and keeping the city's budget within limits.

Eric Seidel, 43, chief executive of eAutoclaims Inc., is running unopposed for Seat 4, which opened early after council member Don Bohr died on Dec. 24. In March, Seidel ran unsuccessfully for Seat 3 against incumbent Vice Mayor Janice Miller.

Seidel said one of his priorities is to make the city's permitting process more user-friendly.

The council has 30 days to fill an unoccupied seat. At last week's council meeting, Beverland suggested the council wait to see who qualifies for Seat 4. If only one person does, the council should vote to appoint him to the seat early, he said. The council will decide what to do at the next meeting on Jan. 16.

That leaves Seat 1 as the only contested race. Wyandt, an Oldsmar resident since 1967, is president of the Oldsmar Historical Society and of the Top of the Bay Garden Club. She works part time as a real estate agent.

Wyandt has served on the City Council twice. She last served in 1990. She lost a 2000 election to David Tilki. She was chairman of the city's Ordinance Review Committee.

"I won't need any on-the-job training," she said.

Wyandt said she is leery of the costs of several city projects and wants to be cautious about funding them. The projects include the water system and the building of a new library.

"I'm just concerned that we're trying to do maybe too much at one time," she said.

Rublee is a science teacher at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg and a member of the board of directors for Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve. He has never held public office.

Rublee moved to Oldsmar in 2004 from Virginia, where he worked as a congressional liaison for the Defense Department. Last year, Rublee was a candidate for the 9th Congressional District seat, but pulled out before the primary election.

Rublee said he wants to lower taxes, improve efficiency by using performance-based measures, and get more community input in city operations.

[Last modified January 9, 2007, 07:17:41]

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