Beach voters head for polls in March
By AMY WIMMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 17, 2000
In March, voters along the beaches will select local mayors, commissioners and council members to fill 18 slots in the 2001 municipal elections.
One town and one city -- Redington Beach and Madeira Beach -- already have opened their qualifying periods, the time when prospective candidates can file to run for office. Other qualifying periods begin in January and last from two to six weeks.
Candidates in all the municipalities are required to pay filing fees, which vary depending on the salary the candidate would earn if elected. Each city has its own requirements, including how long candidates must live there before running for office.
The election -- or in many cases, re-election -- scene looks like this:
Mayor Michael Yakes, who first joined the Gulfport City Council in 1986, plans to run for a sixth term as mayor.
"That's a definite," said Yakes, who was first elected mayor in 1991.
For the first time in 2001, mayoral candidates will be running for a three-year term, thanks to a charter change approved by voters in 1999. Commissioners run for two-year terms.
Jack Olsen, the council member for Ward 2 who is wrapping up his fifth term, said he has not decided whether to run again. Olsen said he has always supported the idea of term limits, but he isn't sure how his beliefs apply when the city does not have term limits.
"It's been fun, and there's still some things I'd like to get accomplished," Olsen said.
On the other hand, he said he also would like to give someone else the opportunity to run, so he will make a final decision in the coming weeks.
Yakes said he has no qualms about his long tenure as mayor.
"My particular position is the voters control your limits," Yakes said. "Term limits, particularly in local government, if you don't do a good job, don't expect to be back there."
Larry Cooper, the council member who represents Ward 4, said he likely will run for re-election. Cooper is particularly excited about the council's efforts along 49th Street, which has been slated as a redevelopment area.
Cooper was appointed to the council in 1996 to fill a seat vacated by a resigning council member. He won re-election in 1997 and 1999.
"We have a lot of projects in Ward 4, including Tomlinson Park," Cooper said. "I'm considering running again."
The mayor earns $800 a month. Council members earn $600 a month. Gulfport's city election will be March 6.
For more information: The qualifying period begins at 8 a.m. Jan. 5 and runs through 4:30 p.m. Jan. 25. Candidate forms are available at City Hall, 2401 53rd St. S. For more information, call 893-1012.
Up for re-election are Charles Parker and Roger Koske, who both say they intend to run.
Parker has represented District 4 since September 1993, when he was appointed to fill the seat vacated by a commissioner who died. He has been elected to the seat three times and has never faced opposition.
Roger Koske, a commercial fisherman and former motel owner, was easily elected to his first term two years ago, beating embattled former Commissioner Tom Saxon. Saxon is involved in an ongoing lawsuit against the city about whether he used his position as a city official to win a state flood grant.
Koske said he thinks the current commission works well together, even though two high-ranking city officials have left Madeira Beach in recent weeks. The commission refused to renew its contract with City Attorney Andy Salzman, and Fire Chief Brian Turini resigned amid concerns that his department lacked leadership and efficiency.
"I'm going to run," Koske said. "We seem to get along pretty well, and nobody has aggravated me bad enough to say I don't want to do this anymore."
Commissioners serve two-year terms and earn $400 a month. The election is scheduled for March 13.
For more information: The qualifying period began Wednesday and ends at 4 p.m. Jan. 12. Candidate information forms are available at City Hall, 300 Municipal Drive. For more information, call 391-9951.
North Redington Beach
Mayor Harold Radcliffe said he plans to run for a fifth term, though he hasn't made a definite decision.
Radcliffe survived a recall attempt in his third term, then went on to be elected to his fourth, after the city disbanded its police department.
Two commission seats also will be on the ballot. Seat 2 Commissioner Gary Curtis said he plans to run for re-election. Seat 1 Commissioner Jeff Busch could not be reached for comment.
Curtis was appointed to the commission in March.
"I've just been actively involved ever since I moved here 14 years ago. I sat in the audience for 12 years," Curtis said. "I just want to be involved, and being a commissioner, I get to be in the forefront of decision-making and making contact with local and regional authorities."
The mayor earns $400 a month. Commissioners earn $200. The election will take place March 6.
For more information: The qualifying period begins Jan. 22 and ends Feb. 2. Candidate information forms are available at Town Hall, 190 173rd Ave. For more information, call 391-4848.
Mayor Jerry Reitz and Commissioner Laura Caniff said they both plan to run for re-election. Commissioner Michael O'Brien could not be reached for comment.
Reitz said he plans to continue working with the Barrier Islands Governmental Council on waging a battle against the state Department of Environmental Protection's new Coastal Construction Control Line.
The line will affect most property owners west of Gulf Boulevard and is expected to place control over that land's development in the state's hands.
"There's just some projects that need to be finished," said Reitz, who was elected to his first term two years ago.
Elected officials in Redington Beach receive the smallest stipend among the south Pinellas beach cities: $100 a month for the mayor, $50 for commissioners.
Each of the offices has a two-year term. The election is scheduled for March 13.
For more information: The qualifying period began Dec. 4 and continues through noon Jan. 12. Candidate information forms are available at Town Hall, 105 164th Ave. For more information, call 391-3875.
The commission seats for District 2 and District 4 will be on the ballot in 2001.
District 4 Commissioner Joe Connor already has decided not to run. District 2 Commissioner Deborah O'Connor, who was appointed months ago to fill a vacant seat on the panel, could not be reached for comment.
Connor said he ran essentially to save the Redington Long Pier, a local landmark built in the 1960s, from being purchased by private developers. He hoped the city, working with the county and state and federal agencies, could buy the property and maintain it as a city pier.
But Nashaat "Tony" Antonious, a city resident who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, stepped in this summer and purchased the pier. Antonious said he, too, wanted to save the pier from development and feared government officials were working too slowly to purchase it.
Commissioners serve two-year terms. The election will be March 13.
For more information: The qualifying period begins Jan. 11 and ends Jan. 26. Candidate information forms are available at Town Hall, 17425 Gulf Blvd. For more information, call 397-5538.
St. Pete Beach
The City Commission, in the midst of building a new City Hall and embarking on a major widening of Blind Pass Road, will have at least one new face next year.
Rachel Crepeau, who represents District 4 and is finishing her first term on the City Commission, has decided not to run again.
Her district includes Pass-a-Grille and Vina del Mar. Crepeau said that as a widowed businesswoman she does not have as much time to devote to city business as she would like.
"I just need time," said Crepeau, who owns the Quebec Apartments in Pass-a-Grille. "I've been able to do it, but maybe someone who has a little more flexibility would be good for it."
Commissioner Jim Myers, who represents District 3, plans to run for re-election. He was first elected to his seat in 1997.
"I'd like to do one more term," Myers said. "There's so many things going now that I want to see to the finish."
Commissioners here serve two-year terms. The election will be March 13.
For more information: The qualifying period begins at 9 a.m. Jan. 22 and continues through noon Feb. 6. Candidate information forms are available at City Hall, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. For more information, call 367-2735.
The only race this year is for mayor. Fred Held, who has held the position for six years, has said he plans to run again, though he is out of town and could not be reached for comment last week.
If Held is elected, it would be his last term because of South Pasadena's term limits.
Held and his wife Alma moved to the Bay Islands Condominiums in 1979 from Philadelphia. He was elected to public office as a city commissioner in 1981. Except for 1983-1985, Held served on the commission continuously until 1994, when he had to leave because the City Commission instituted a three-term limit on the mayor and commissioners.
Held was out of office for two days when other commissioners approached him about serving as mayor. Then-Mayor Barbara Gilberg had resigned after the 1994 elections, saying she would be unable to work with the newly elected commission.
Held was appointed mayor for a year and then elected to his first three-year term in 1995. The mayor earns $625 a month. South Pasadena's election is scheduled for March 6.
For more information: The qualifying period begins at noon Jan. 5 and ends at noon Jan. 19. Candidate information forms are available at City Hall, 7047 Sunset Drive S. For more information, call 347-4171.
Two commissioners are up for re-election and both plan to run again.
District 1's Stephanie Lavino is running for a second consecutive term. She was appointed to fill a vacancy on the commission in 1994 and then elected to a two-year term in 1995. She returned to city government in 1999 and won back her old seat.
District 3 Commissioner Mary Maloof plans to run for a third term on the panel. Maloof ran unsuccessful bids for mayor against Walter Stubbs in the early 1990s.
Commissioners serve two-year terms. The election is scheduled for March 6.
For more information: The qualifying period begins at noon Jan. 5 and ends at noon Jan. 30. Candidate information forms are available at City Hall, 120 108th Ave. For more information, call 547-4575.
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