BELLEAIR BEACH - Donna Durante, a familiar face on the City Council a few years ago, has thrown her hat in the political ring again and is seeking to succeed Rudy Davis as mayor in the March election.
Adhering to the pledge that he made when elected, Davis is stepping down after one term.
Durante's opponent in the race is Lynn Rives, presently a sitting member of the council.
A vigorous businesswoman with her own real estate agency, Durante is crystal clear on her issues.
She is in favor of retaining the city's police department, an issue that will be a referendum on the March 13 ballot. The other main point is that she is opposed to building a new city hall, but instead wants to renovate the present building.
Other issues are a little more nebulous, but important. She favors implementing and improving communications with residents, preserving and enhancing property values and maintaining low residential density and ruling out commercial property.
She says, "I will explain at candidates night how the process for renovating the city hall can be done."
Her plan has three stages, she says, and begins with fixing up the rotunda. "Hurricane windows and handicap requirements are necessary," Durante says, and adds, "Why spend four million dollars when it can be done for five hundred thousand?"
Durante points out some of the highlights in her record on four years on the council.
She says she was responsible for "reversing the sewer debacle" while at the same emphasizing that she had a well and was not directly affected by the fee increase.
She was referring to the city boosting sewer rates inordinately that set off a firestorm of criticism and months of bitter controversy.
"I insisted when the city sold the sewer system (to Pinellas County) that they replace the water main not repair it," Durante says.
One of the fallouts of the sewer system sale was the shameful treatment of a long-term city employee, Buell Vann. Durante was not involved with that.
She is a strong opponent of the Sheriff's Office providing police service and claims that costs that have been listed are misleading.
Her campaign manager, J.C. Imfeld, is also the head of the group favoring retaining the police department in the three-way setup devised by the City Council for informing the public on the upcoming police referendum.
Durante was born in Washington, D.C., to college educated government workers and grew up in Maryland where she made quite a mark as an athlete in swimming, field hockey and softball.
She is a graduate of Towson University in Maryland and has two children. Her daughter works with her in her SanSeair real estate company and a son attends the University of Baltimore.
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