tampabay.com

City election field expands

A newcomer challenges a longtime commissioner for Seat 5 as a first-timer seeks Seat 6.

By LORRI HELFAND
Published July 21, 2007


LARGO - At least two new faces may vie for seats on the City Commission.

John Mandujano, a local computer consultant, and Louis "Woody" Brown, a downtown chiropractor, both plan to run in the Nov. 6 election.

Vice Mayor Harriet Crozier, 63, whose term ends in November, also plans to run. She has served on the City Commission for 13 years.

Mandujano, 52, who plans to challenge Crozier for Seat 5, said he was motivated to join the race because of the firing of former city manager Steve Stanton.

"It struck me as being very discriminatory," Mandujano said.

Mandujano, who moved to Largo about four years ago, said he'd like to see Largo become more of a destination place.

He criticized his opponent on her voting record, including the Stanton firing, but praised her on her resume of community service.

Brown, who is chairman of the city's Recreation, Parks and Arts board, plans to run for Seat 6, which will be vacated by Commissioner Gay Gentry when her term expires.

Brown was raised in Indian Rocks Beach and moved to Largo in 2001. He said he's wanted to run for a while, but didn't have enough time to dedicate to the race and the job.

Brown, who turns 37 early next month, said his schedule opened up because he recently ended his term as Largo Rotary president and no longer plays competitive Ultimate Frisbee.

"I've always been interested in the city and development that's been going on downtown and the progress of the city," said Brown, who lives and works in downtown Largo and is a member of the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce.

Other candidates may join the race before the qualifying period ends Aug. 30. Terms are three-years for both seats.

Eddie Houston, who owns O'Houston's Irish Pub & Restaurant on West Bay Drive, also has picked up a candidate packet. But it's unclear if Houston acquired the information for himself. He did not specify a commission seat, according to City Clerk Diane Bruner, and has not returned calls for comment from a reporter.

In March the city closed on a $1.8-million purchase of five parcels, including Houston's pub, which had a long-term lease with the previous owner.

Holly Turngren picked up two packets a few weeks ago, but she has not indicated who the packets were for, either, Bruner said.

In March, her husband, David Turngren, identified himself as a resident of unincorporated Pinellas County at a city hearing where he urged city leaders to fire the former city manager.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or 445-4155.