Largo's November Election Opens Up With Absence of Gentry in the Field
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Largo will mark a historical departure in its electoral process for municipal offices when it holds its election in November, instead of March.
Perhaps the biggest news in that election almost a half a year away is that a familiar face on the City Commission dais will not be running.
Informed and reliable sources have indicated that Gay Gentry will not be a candidate.
That news, in and of itself, will perhaps crank up extra interest in the November race which, as of now, will offer Gentry's open seat.
Up for re-election is Commissioner Harriet Crozier who is expected to run for yet another three-year term.
The candidate qualifying period for the Largo election begins in less than a month - July 2 - and continues until August 30. That plan is expected to be ratified at next week's commission meeting.
That will give candidates a little more than two full months to campaign.
While some think that two months is overlong for a campaign, others are of the opinion that nine full weeks of scrutinizing candidates might be a good thing.
Turnouts in Largo for city elections have been low in recent years, giving the city a strong reputation of voter apathy. It is this voter apathy combined with a lack of scrutiny of candidates that has led the city into some troubling incidents.
Bob Jackson, who was defeated in his re-election attempt for mayor in 2006, may be a candidate in the fall election. Gentry's open seat would give him an excellent chance, many observers think, to gain a seat without any incumbent opposition.
Jackson had been a longtime member of the commission and then became mayor after Thom Feaster's death. He served something like 30 years in elected office.
Crozier is a fixture on the commission and her long-term goal is to become mayor. She was first elected in 1993 and served for six years.
She made a comeback in 2000 for a one-year term, and then was re-elected in 2001 and 2004, the same year she and Gentry were returned to the commission unopposed.
Gentry was first appointed to the commission in 2003 when then Commissioner Marty Shelby resigned his seat to unsuccessfully oppose Jackson for mayor.
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