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He's about more than business

But Eric Seidel says he'll take a practical business approach on Oldsmar City Council.

By TAMARA El-KHOURY
Published February 4, 2007


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OLDSMAR - Eric Seidel, the sharply-dressed, tech-savvy former chief executive officer of a multimillion-dollar public company, wept three years ago when he had to put down Midnight, his black Lab of 18 years.

He bets you didn't know that.

He bets you didn't know he was married at 18 and divorced 20 years later. That he didn't go to college. That he got a job as an iron worker and remembers rolling pennies in the bank parking lot so he could buy something at the grocery store for his son and stepson.

Oldsmar's newest City Council member is not pure business and he wants you to know that.

"I'm really very down to earth," he said.

Seidel, 43, was a political newcomer last year when he lost a close election to incumbent vice-mayor Janice Miller for Seat 3.

He came back ready for another election, this time vying for Seat 4, which would be vacated in March by council member Don Bohr. Bohr said he was planning to run for mayor.

But when Bohr died on Dec. 24, and no one else qualified to run for Seat 4, the City Council appointed Seidel to fill Bohr's seat. He was sworn in on Jan. 16.

Seidel recently dropped his title as chief executive of eAutoclaims Inc., a company he brought to Oldsmar in 2002, and is now vice chairman. The move frees up his schedule so he can take on new responsibilities, such as sitting on the City Council.

Before he was sworn in, he resigned from the executive committee of the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Seidel said he'll bring a practical business approach to the council. He said his strength is in evaluating expenditures and budget issues.

"I think he'll be very professional," said council member Jim Ronecker, who will become Oldsmar's next mayor. "I think he will bring a business mentality to the council."

Seidel hopes to help establish a customer service indexing process to help evaluate the city's customer service to Oldsmar residents.

His long-term goal for Oldsmar is to continue "its leadership in being a hurricane-ready city," Seidel said.

He said he wants to see the city take a leadership role in the My Safe Florida Home plan, a state program that assists homeowners with fortifying their homes against hurricanes.

Seidel's willingness to take risks has paid off in his career and personal finances. He said he's not afraid to work a lot of hours.

He said with very few exceptions, he'll never raise his voice at a City Council meeting.

It's not a lack of passion, he said, but his ability to look at things from a "practical point of view."

He wants you to know that.

[Last modified February 3, 2007, 21:03:06]


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