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Seat 2 Crystal River City Council

Challenger Bonnie Taylor says she would be more effective on the council than sitting member Alex Ilnyckyj.

By JOSH ZIMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Some view this year's Crystal River City Council races as moments of reckoning for the incumbents.

Supporters of former City Manager Russell Kreager -- now a council candidate -- still fume at how current council members Paula Wheeler and Alex Ilnyckyj joined former council member Richard Brady in firing him. Although they quickly changed the firing to a resignation once Kreager threatened to sue, his backers hope voters throw Wheeler and Ilnyckyj off the board.

Ilnyckyj's Seat 2 opponent, Bonnie Taylor, knows the scuttlebutt but said she is not running out of bad blood. "Actually, I have no animosity toward either one of them," she said of Ilnyckyj and Wheeler.

However, Taylor, who almost ran in the last two council elections, is eager to win. She thinks she can be more effective than Ilnyckyj.

Ilnyckyj, she said, "seems to get carried away when he gets part of the facts."

Ilnyckyj, who first served on council from 1990 to 1992, is running for a second consecutive two-year term. He is best known for his aversion to spending money and a combative style that can turn off residents and colleagues.

Three council members voted this year to censure him for misconduct after he accused them of breaking Florida's open meetings laws by holding private discussions on the city's financial problems.

The vote was "retribution," Ilnyckyj said.

Taylor, a registered nurse whose resume includes an appointment to the East Cooper School Board in South Carolina, was contemplating a run in 1998.

But after moving here from Atlanta, she discovered her new house was located just outside the city limits. She has since moved inside the limits. A serious car accident several months later kept her out of the 1999 race.

With those frustrations behind her, Taylor is pushing a set of priorities and, if elected, said she will try to create a better working relationship among council members.

"It just seems like City Council should be more adult ... instead of having spitball fights," she said. "There's got to be some reason there's such a turnover in city government."

If elected, Taylor would push for increased Marine Patrol visits to crack down on people who pollute local waters and to support the rights of charter fishermen to operate from their homes according to limits set by the new home occupation ordinance. The city should be more hospitable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates a local office on Kings Bay Drive, she said.

Some neighbors have protested the agency's proposal to build a 1,000-square-foot office building there to make more exhibit room in the current site. The City Council has formally asked Fish and Wildlife to find another location for the proposed visitor center.

Ilnyckyj takes credit for getting the state Department of Transportation to agree to the installation of a traffic light at Turkey Oak Drive and U.S. 19 as well as an official speed reduction on U.S. 19 through Crystal River. He said he also drew attention to financial problems in the city's sanitation division and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by fighting proposals for a new Palm Island bridge in the Kings Bay area.

Should he be re-elected, his goals include finding a new location for the Fish and Wildlife's visitor's center, as well as property for new municipal office complex. He said the city needs to find another financial software system.

Finding grant money to help pay for the cleanup of local waters will be his main priority, he said.

As for Taylor, Ilnyckyj said he is convinced -- "without a doubt in my mind" -- she was recruited by his opponents to run against him.

"When you're in politics you're always going to have someone dislike you," he said. "I believe very strongly we have to do jobs that are proper for the whole city, not one or two people."

THE JOB

City Council members set policies for city staff, which handles the day-to-day running of local government. They vote on ordinances and the annual budget, which finances city operations. Members earn $5,428 annually.

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ALEX ILNYCKYJ, 61, was born in Ukraine, and arrived in Brooklyn, N.Y. after World War II. He received a degree in applied science from Suffolk County Community College, part of the State University of New York system. After working as a real estate broker in Crystal River, he opened the recycling business he now operates. He is married with three children. ASSETS: businesses and property. LIABILITIES: business contract. SOURCE OF INCOME: business.

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BONNIE TAYLOR, 53, was born and raised in Virginia. She received a nursing degree from Kennesaw State University in Marietta, Ga. She moved to Florida in 1997 and works as a registered nurse in local hospitals and nursing homes. She is married with one child. ASSETS: property and retirement account. LIABILITIES: mortgage and car loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: job and rental property. E-MAIL ADDRESS: Bon@fx2.com.

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