By Leo Coughlin
Please pardon the interruption, and let’s get back to business.
Consider, if you will, the local political scene that is now in the election stage in some quarters.
There is a crucial election in Indian Rocks Beach, just five days away, but let’s digress for a moment –
Whatever happens in the mayoral race in Belleair Bluffs the City Commission will lose a valuable member. With the incumbent, Mayor Chris Arbutine being challenged by Dave Shimkus, a longtime commission member, one of these fellows will fall by the wayside.
And there is a scramble on for three seats, one of which the incumbent, Bob Russo, seeks re-election. The others in the tussle are Jack Nazario, Suzy Sofer, Joe Barkley, Gary Nemes and Wanda Rusinowski.
In Belleair, Mayor Gary Katica (such a competent and nice guy) is heading for another term. He is unopposed. Governing bodies are set in Belleair Beach and Belleair Shore.
A significant piece of news we are going to fold in here as we go to press. IRB has selected a new city manager (there has been none for well more than a year). Charles “Chuck” Coward, who had held a similar post in Treasure Island, will take the reins. In place already is Sandy Sanders as treasurer, so IRB is on a little firmer footing.
What is of more immediate interest now in Indian Rocks Beach is the election next Tuesday. This is a situation that captures one’s imagination – and concern.
Up for re-election is an experienced commissioner – Terry Hamilton-Wollin. She is among three aspirants going for two seats.
Obviously, she has a challenge. But it’s hard to know who is challenging her. Probably someone not running at all. The big question is why anyone would want to challenge this woman who has done a stellar job over the past two years.
Constantly roiling the waters in Indian Rocks Beach is a character with a blog (is that what they call those things?) who is a holdover (hangover?) from the old Bill Ockunzzi days.
It is no secret that IRB has been in a desperate situation that has now lingered for several years. With Coward and Sanders now in place there is improvement.
But IRB voters face a crucial decision Tuesday.
They would be wise to stick with Hamilton-Wollin.
House is a known quantity to the extent that he has gained a reputation for being clownish and gets things wrong, be design or otherwise. The further downside is that he represents the pernicious influence of the Ockunzzi crowd. Enough damage has been done by that element and voters are better off going with Hamilton-Wollin and Phil Hanna, a relative unknown, but a better choice in the eyes of many wise observers than House.
In short, the choice of House would give rise to Ockunzzi re-visited, an experience IRB definitely does not need.
Among other things, House – a familiar figure at commission meetings – just gets many things plain wrong, most notably calling transfers made within the city’s financial structure loans.
Such claptrap, obviously designed to confuse and mislead citizens, is not the kind of irresponsible demeanor needed on the City Commission which for the past year has indulged in too much kumbaya.
With new staff leadership, this is a time Indian Rocks Beach has a chance to move forward with Hamilton-Wollin remaining and Hanna joining Mayor R.B. Johnson and Cookie Kennedy and Dan Torres on the commission.
Return to Current Edition