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Familiar foes face off in Port Richey

Bob Leggiere and Eloise Taylor, who ran against each other in a special election in September, again compete in the Port Richey mayor's race.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2001


PORT RICHEY -- Tuesday's mayoral election in Port Richey will give many voters a case of deja vu.

For the second time in seven months, Bob Leggiere and Eloise Taylor will appear on the same ballot, trying to get the same job. And both are essentially campaigning on the same platforms as before: Taylor's good government versus Leggiere's experience.

The difference is this time Taylor's the incumbent, Leggiere the challenger. Taylor defeated Leggiere in September by 18 percent. The two candidates also differ on what they see as the city's future, particularly on development.

In candidate forums and interviews, Taylor has said the city must look at infrastructure needs, such as police staffing and roads, before going forward with more development. Leggiere said he wants to continue the annexation efforts he was part of before he was defeated so the city can get more tax money for improvements.

Taylor and Leggiere also differ on police needs. Leggiere says code enforcement and improving housing quality will take care of crime. Taylor says more officers are for increased demand created by the super Wal-Mart at Ridge Road and U.S. 19.

Taylor is a lawyer in west Pasco and has a background in city politics. She was city attorney for a year starting in 1992. She resigned after the City Council ignored her advice and booted a fellow council member accused of interfering with city operations. That council member later sued the city and won back his seat. Taylor got into a special mayoral race last year when Leggiere, the lone candidate at the time, was tied to a police investigation into allegations he interfered with the building department.

That investigation still hangs over Leggiere. A grand jury has issued no indictments. However, a recent grand jury report still is sealed by a judge.

Leggiere surprised some by filing to run again this year. He is a two-time council member, first elected in 1997. He ran unopposed in 1999 and was elected vice mayor by the council in April 2000.

He became acting mayor in June when former Mayor Eileen Ferdinand resigned to run for a County Commission seat. That set up the special election in September, to pick someone to complete Ferdinand's term. Leggiere has said he's running again because he has unfinished business with the city, including rewriting outdated ordinances and annexing properties.

The election is Tuesday, with the winners sworn in April 16.

The job

The Port Richey mayor is elected at-large in the city in a non-partisan race. The mayor serves as the chairman of the City Council. The winning candidate will serve a two-year term and will make $2,160 a year.

Eloise Taylor

BACKGROUND: She is a native of Ohio and has lived in Florida for 19 years, nine of them in Port Richey. She is a lawyer, specializing in civil and divorce law. She served as Port Richey's city attorney from 1992-93. Before entering private practice in 1985, she was assistant county attorney in both Hernando and Pasco. Taylor holds a doctorate in political science, which she received in 1974 at the University of Pittsburgh. She taught political science at Kent State University in Ohio from 1966 to 1968, and 1970 to 1982. She earned her law degree from the University of Akron in Ohio and was admitted to the Ohio and Florida Bar associations

ASSETS: home

LIABILITIES: none listed

SOURCE OF INCOME: law practice

Robert T. Leggiere

AGE: 59

BACKGROUND: He is a native of New York state and has lived in Florida for 19 years, 15 of them in Port Richey. He owns Custom Windows and Doors, a retail business on U.S. 19. He was first elected to the City Council in 1997 and ran unopposed in 1999. He was elected vice mayor by the council last April and became acting mayor in June when former Mayor Eileen Ferdinand left to run for Pasco County Commission. He also serves on one of Pasco County's code enforcement boards.

ASSETS: home, business

LIABILITIES: none listed

SOURCE OF INCOME: business income

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