BELLEAIR BEACH - The biggest question as the electorate gets ready to go to the polls here March 14 is whether the voters will return to office a man who kept city hall jumping with shenanigans during his tenure as mayor.
Mike Kelly left that job a year ago and many breathed a sigh of relief.
His departure was coincident with the installation of the city manager form of government, a move that was initiated, strongly supported by and implemented by Rudy Davis, Kelly’s successor.
Things in city hall were cleaned up very quickly. An employee who was loathed and feared in the office quickly departed, knowing, no doubt, that City Manager Reid Silverboard would quickly see through her act.
She was there as a result of Kelly’s doing. Other smudges on the Kelly record were the famed “autogate” hi-jinks carried out, with full endorsement of Kelly, by the police chief.
Then there was the incident of allegedly throwing away this newspaper which was reporting news that was not liked. That resulted in a lawsuit that still totters on, rivaling Jardyce v. Jardyce for longevity.
This recitation just hits the high spots.
Kelly is one of six aspirants (three of them incumbents) seeking office next month.
An objective view leaves most observers with the idea of going with at least two of the incumbents - Donna Durante and Jeff Coulson - and substituting Richard Crowl, a retired lawyer for Marvin Behm, whose tenure at best has been unimpressive.
The other candidate, Mary Schoonover, seems to fall into the category of “this might be a fun experience” exercise. Hard to see any qualifications there.
A prospective lineup of Crowl getting elected and Coulson and Durante keeping their seats would result in that trio joining Mayor Davis and Stan Sofer and Lynn Rives on the council.
As one observer said, “It should be interesting.” That could be an understatement because the politicking and campaigning will get hot and heavy over the next five and half weeks.
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