By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published March 8, 2007
Paul Gibson Candidate for Clearwater City Council Seat 5
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your endorsement of my opponent for Clearwater City Council Seat 5. Your endorsement did not properly consider my experience, education, business experience or commitment to controlling spending by the City Council. I would suggest our problems require a much deeper candidate analysis to include the candidate's commitment to provide proper direction to the city management.
My platform is as follows:
- Fiscal responsibility - the spending of tax dollars like they were your dollars.
- Zero-based budgeting model - to review all budgeted dollars each year rather than just the budget increase.
- Spending prioritization - to reflect the value of essential over nonessential services (e.g. "needs" over "wants").
- Self-funding new programs only.
- Staff accountability for meeting capital and operating budgets.
- Penny for Pinellas sales tax to fund priority capital projects only, such as bringing fire stations up to current code and standards, and improving the Countryside Library.
- Expand the tax base through the redevelopment of under-utilized and/or abandoned properties.
- Improve traffic flow through synchronizing of stoplights and road improvements.
- Construct a beach parking garage(s) with a developer partner to allow all Clearwater citizens to use our beautiful beaches.
- Full, clear and timely disclosure of any city transaction affecting Clearwater citizens.
- Speak clearly and forcefully for the best interests of Clearwater taxpayers.
I do not believe I have sent mixed messages and further believe my positions are totally consistent. The city of Clearwater does not need to spend every tax dollar it receives from windfall tax assessments. It can control spending and reduce the millage rate rather than funding every new project and expenditure. I would like to be part of the solution and ask for your vote on March 13th.
Harry Andropoulos Candidate for Tarpon Springs mayor
I would like to respond to the endorsement article for mayor of Tarpon Springs.
I do not consider myself "moderately informed," but very well-informed with regard to the issues, programs and projects in my community.
In terms of budgeting, there is room within the current budget for restructuring and prioritizing for both the needs of the community and tax relief.
In my daily travels throughout all areas of the community, I have listened to many citizens' concerns and ideas. I am ready to represent and work for my fellow Tarponites.
While I haven't held political office, prior political office is not an American or Tarpon Springs prerequisite. My dealings with large corporate budgets, people, negotiations, hearings and proceedings have more than adequately prepared me to hold political office in a city of 21,000.
Tarpon Springs needs a fresh, clear voice and that voice is mine! I ask the citizens of Tarpon Springs to cast their votes for Harry James Andropoulos on March 13.
David Bolton Candidate for Tarpon Springs Commission Seat 3
Tarpon Springs citizens, my name is David Bolton, resident since 1975. I am running for city commissioner because I believe that Tarpon Springs needs positive, proactive leadership that will address the complex issues facing our city. The time to address these issues is before they become critical. As your commissioner, I will not just point out problems but will offer intelligent solutions as well.
The newspaper has focused recently on a mistake I made almost 20 years ago. I have never attempted to hide my past from anyone and have shared my testimony many times in the public arena. I learned from that season and have worked diligently to develop the character of who I am today.
Over the last 18 years, I have worked with youth, became ordained, became a certified ophthalmic assistant and refractionist, and led many volunteer teams around the world.
I created and launched programs such as 5th Quarter, a drug- and alcohol-free event for high school students. I developed Work Your Turf, an annual event where citizens came together and did various service projects. Some of these projects included painting the CAP Center, maintenance at Rose Cemetery and working with the elderly. I have volunteered with Upward Basketball and served on the School Advisory Council at Tarpon Springs High School.
As your commissioner, I will always vote to protect our city from overdevelopment. I will bring ideas to help bolster tourism. I will work diligently to reach every home with city sewer and reclaimed water. I will work to increase communication with our citizens and streamline permitting for homeowners.
Our county and state roads, such as Keystone Road and Riverside Drive, need attention. I will increase our city's voice in these arenas and prevent further delays. I will support and work toward public/private partnerships to increase our recreational opportunities. I will always prefer projects that protect the environment and enhance our city's unique character.
I am proud of who I am today and the accomplishments achieved for our city. I represent Team Tarpon Springs. Please vote for David Bolton. I look forward to being your next commissioner.
Rob Parker Candidate for Safety Harbor mayor
Ah, the power of the press. They get 826 words to endorse their choice for Safety Harbor mayor and trash his opposition, but the opposition gets a maximum of 350 words and cannot attack the endorsed opponent.
It's a lot like the selective reporting of the facts from the candidate forum. When the question was asked, "If elected mayor, what would your first priority be and how would you start it," my response dealt with the vision, a plan to get it started quickly and seamlessly. My opponent (who was appointed interim mayor by the City Commission but not elected as mayor) said, "We're already working on that ... My first priority is a tree canopy program for downtown."
Did the Times forget this? Or does the Times consider the tree canopy a more important issue than the future of the whole city?
Did the Times mention that I will dedicate 100 percent of my time to the learning curve to help resolve city issues because I have the luxury of not needing to work for the next year?
In fact, since the forum I have learned that our commission is planning a $4-million shortfall in 2006-07 that will be made up by city reserves.
The Times seems to portray me as maybe a little dim. There again we have selective reporting. That biotech company that I helped start up is planning to go public later this year.
How about the fact that I have several published biomedical patent applications and issued patents as sole inventor and co-inventor with NASA research scientists? Maybe they should have mentioned that Texas A&M is doing preliminary testing on these concepts and they have already changed the way medical science is approaching cellular expansion. Did they really research the candidates and find out what their contributions to society were?
If you noticed a certain sense of aggression in this letter, you are correct. If you read that I possess a sense of urgency, a desire to create a cohesive commission and be the real mayor, you are correct again.
I would love to have your support and especially your vote on March 13. My 350 words are up.
Editor's note: On Tuesday all residents of Pinellas County will have the opportunity to vote for or against a 10-year extension of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax.
On the same day, there also will be elections in Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor and Oldsmar to choose representatives for those city councils and commissions.
The Times has previously printed lengthy editorials explaining its recommendations of Norma Carlough for Clearwater City Council Seat 5; Beverley Billiris for Tarpon Springs mayor; Peter Dalacos for Tarpon Springs City Commission Seat 3; and Greg Rublee for Oldsmar City Council Seat 1.
The Times provides free space for the candidates who were not recommended in those races to reply. The following responses were received in response to that offer.