BELLEAIR BEACH - The City Council outlined the procedure for filling the vacant council seat at its regular meeting Monday night.
The opening was created when Ken Lucci, who had been counting on the victory of a ticket made up of two members seeking re-election and a former mayor, resigned the day after the March 14 election because the ticket lost.
Losing were incumbents Donna Durante and Marvin Behm and Mike Kelly. Kelly ran dead last in the field of candidates. Elected was a new face, Richard Crowl, and Jeff Coulson won re-election.
Now listed as candidates are four residents.
They are Robert Burrell, a lawyer; George "Tony" Gevo, who is in sales and marketing; Joseph Kane, also a lawyer, and Kathleen Mortensen, a medical technologist.
Next month council members will subject the candidates to a far more rigorous test than they themselves faced in getting elected.
Each candidate will give a two-minute presentation, then undergo questioning from the council for five minutes, and wind up with a 30-second closing.
At least the process avoids all appearance of cronyism. An earlier idea put forward by Councilmember Stan Sofer was to have the fourth leading vote getter in the March election (Marvin Behm) be appointed to the vacancy, an apparent insult to the electorate which had specifically rejected Behm.
With the list of candidates the council has available what appears to be four well qualified people in terms of education and professional success.
Looming in the background of the meeting, but unspoken, is the imminent expectation that the long-running lawsuit, Clearwater Gazette v. Mike Kelly, et al., is near resolution.
A settlement, which would resolve the suit and back the point made by the Gazette (that First Amendment rights should not be interfered with), may be close, an authoritative source said Monday.
The council spent 30 minutes on an ordinance dealing with fences and setbacks, demonstrating, after all is said and done, that it is basically a homeowners association after all.
With that out of the way, the council got through the remainder of the 17 items on the agenda in 40 minutes or so.
Mark Schwartz was named to the Planning Board, Councilmembers Lynn Rives and Mary Schoonover were appointed a director and alternate, respectively, to the Suncoast League of Cities, Rives and Sofer were named as first and second alternates to Mayor Rudy Davis as representative to the Barrier Island Government Council (Big-C) and named Harry Ramsey to the Police Pension Board.
Crowl, in comments at the end of the meeting, brought up some concerns on the county's pie in the sky plans for the undergrounding and beautification on Gulf Boulevard that would cost Belleair Beach about $4.5 million.
Davis, looking at the video camera that will carry the meeting on BBTV15, said there would be full resident input before any commitments are made.
Not generally publicized in the city although it is of necessity a public meeting, is the the strategic planning session which is scheduled for all day on May 9, next Tuesday.
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