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    Back problems force mayor to resign from Belleair post

    The deputy mayor will serve as a replacement for Mayor John Donlan, whose term was to expire in March.

    By DEBORAH O'NEIL

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 2, 2000


    BELLEAIR -- Faced with ongoing health problems, Mayor John "Jack" Donlan has resigned, ending nearly 10 years in elected office.

    Donlan, 72, has been suffering with serious back problems and now is recuperating from surgery on his spine. In his resignation letter, sent Monday, he noted that he is confined to his home for rehabilitation.

    "I'm just distracted by all the pain," Donlan said Tuesday. "I don't think it's fair for me to remain as mayor."

    Town Manager Steve Cottrell said the resignation was "kind of a shock but not unanticipated," given the mayor's health.

    Donlan, a retired TWA pilot, was first elected in December 1989 and served as a commissioner in the town of 4,100 until 1996. In 1997, he was elected mayor, a position he has held since. His term was to end in March.

    Deputy Mayor George Mariani Jr., whose father served as mayor in the 1980s, will fill the rest of Donlan's term. The commission will appoint someone to fill Mariani's seat until March.

    Mariani said it is regrettable that Donlan must leave under such circumstances.

    "I'm very sorry he's been as ill as he has been," Mariani said. "He's been in pain for quite some time."

    Donlan was a quiet leader who allowed all sides to be heard, Mariani said.

    "I think he was a wonderful mayor," he said. "The town will miss him."

    Commissioner Tom Murrin called Donlan "the best mayor I've ever been in touch with."

    Donlan said he's enjoyed serving the community.

    "It was a lot of fun," he said. "I met some wonderful people. I have more friends in Belleair than I ever dreamed possible."

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