Tarpon winner says door-to-door paid off
Voters wanted a "regular citizen, just like them," Susan Slattery says after her victory.
By Rita Farlow, Times Staff Writer
Published March 13, 2008
TARPON SPRINGS - Throughout her campaign for city commissioner, Susan Slattery promised that, if elected, she would be responsive to residents' concerns.
To prove it, she hit the pavement and went house-to-house to listen to citizens' concerns.
In the end, that walking may have paid off, Slattery said Wednesday. She'll be sworn in as the newest commissioner March 18, after she gained 36 percent of the votes in Tuesday's three-person election.
"I really believe the walking door-to-door helped," Slattery said. "It was a lot of work to do, but I think it was worth it."
Her opponents, Tod Eckhouse and Herb Elliott, received 33.65 percent and 29.88 percent of the votes, respectively. All three were running for the seat soon to be vacated by Vice Mayor David Archie, who is leaving due to term limits.
Slattery said her lack of city government experience was seen as a plus by some residents.
"They want somebody with fresh ideas, somebody that isn't necessarily an attorney or a business person, somebody that is just a regular citizen, just like them and is on their level," she said. "They want their ideas, opinions and thoughts to be heard."
The 44-year-old mortgage broker said she was "very, very excited" to get started. Among her priorities as a commissioner will be to work to preserve Tarpon Springs' historic buildings, fix up local roads and recruit new businesses downtown, Slattery said.
Slattery moved here in 1977 and was a 1982 graduate of Tarpon Springs High School, where she currently serves as treasurer for the school's PTSA. Slattery is married and has a 17-year-old son, Kevin.
Elliott, a former Tarpon Springs city attorney, called Slattery to wish her well after the results were made public Tuesday, she said. Elliott, 62, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Eckhouse said Wednesday that he intends to offer his congratulations to Slattery at next week's commission meeting.
Eckhouse, 61, a member of the city's planning and zoning board, said he will continue to attend commission meetings and would consider running again.
"I have a strong interest in the city and where its headed," he said. "I want to continue to be a part of shaping the growth and giving my public opinion on all the issues that come up, as they arise, at these meetings."
Also Tuesday, more than 77 percent of voters approved two referendums that will allow for modifications to the city's lease with Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital. Those lease amendments will make property available for a mixed-use development north of the hospitalwith doctors' offices, a parking garage and residences.
"We have struggled trying to find a good site for a medical office building in the past, and (developer AG Armstrong), because of their willingness to work with us, it's just worked out very well," hospital CEO Don Evans said. "Every now and then, you get these win-win situations for both parties. I believe this is one of them."
Though the hospital and the developer have already come to a tentative agreement, attorneysfor the hospital, the developer and the city can now begin to finalize details, said City Attorney Jim Yacavone.
"My thinking on it is that within 90 days, we can come back with a hammered out development agreement to put before the board," he said.
Nearly 83 percent of voters approved the third referendum question, which gave the hospital's board the authority to sell a medical arts center in Pasco County. Proceeds of that sale will go toward improvements at the hospital, such as a new cardiac catheterization lab, Evans said.
Tarpon Springs election
Item 1: To allow Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital to sell 0.62 acres.
Item 2: To delete 1.6 acres from the city's lease with Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital.
Item 3: To allow the Tarpon Springs Hospital Foundation to sell a medical arts building in Pasco County.