Battle for Mayoral Position
By Renee Burrell
Photos courtesy of candidates
BELLEAIR BLUFFS- Voters will have a tough decision March 10 as two candidates, both who have demonstrated their commitment to the town, compete for the mayor's seat. We asked Commissioner David Shimkus and Mayor Chris Arbutine to explain in their own words why they are the best candidate for the job.
Many people have asked me why after serving as a commissioner for the past seven years, I resigned the last year of my term in order to run for mayor of Belleair Bluffs and the answer is quite simple. I want to change things by bringing an honest, ethical and above-board approach to running the city. Iíve been a Bluffs resident for over 10 years, where my wife Taylour and I are raising our two year old daughter, and are expecting another daughter in May. I served my country as a United States Marine, and graduated college with honors.
There are several goals I have if elected. Balancing our budget that currently has us at least $130,000 in the hole is paramount. I have ideas for new sources of revenue, while still keeping taxes low for citizens. Speaking of taxes, I plan on giving residents some of their tax dollars back by helping pay their enrollment fees for a park district program.
Term limits are also something I feel is important. If you havenít completed your goals in eight years, itís time to move on and bring in new faces and ideas. We should have term limits for both the mayor and commissioners.
Iíll create an information network in conjunction with the sheriffís and fire departments to keep citizens and business owners informed of vital information at all times.
Safety is important and with the pending opening of the new causeway bridge, I have been working on an idea for a new driveway that would help residents in the condos exit directly onto Bluff View Drive instead of into busy bridge traffic.
Our local retailers are closing shop by the handfuls, office buildings and strip malls are for sale and we need to help them. Iíve presented an idea for a limited number of high end, temporary signs that would help retailers advertise as well as bring the city additional revenue.
This is an important election and I hope the voters make an informed decision. Voters should take time, research everything and find out who is telling the truth and who is making false claims about their accomplishments. Iím asking Belleair Bluffs residents to vote for me, David M. Shimkus for mayor. As a commissioner and vice mayor with a proven record who has been the watchdog of the commission and has always stood up to wrongdoing, Iíll bring new, positive ideas for the future of our city. Itís time for new leadership, and I hope I can earn your vote.
Belleair Bluffs is my hometown and Iím proud that throughout my years of service we have improved and prospered. I led the drive for our new Community Center/ City Hall and worked with the County to get decorative lighting for the new bridge project. We have new playground equipment and are building a new drainage system to prevent residential flooding. I stand on my record and think I deserve your vote on March 10th. If re-elected this is what I will do: I will continue to improve Belleair Bluffs Fire Rescue. Iím proud to have the endorsement of the Belleair Bluffs Fire Fighters Association. Over the last eight years, I spearheaded improvements to Fire services, enabling us to expand and improve services. We now offer Advanced Emergency Medical Services; paramedics are on every truck and more are being trained. Land has been purchased and money set aside for a new fire station. For these reasons and more, our firefighters are enthusiastically supporting my re-election.
I will keep new businesses in our area. Our main intersection has a business on every corner. I worked to fill empty storefronts and bring new businesses to Belleair Bluffs because a thriving business center improves our community and stabilizes our tax base, lessening the load our residents must bear. You can count on me to maintain a well-balanced City where people want to live and do business.
I will hold the line on taxes. Throughout my tenure we have never raised the millage rate. In fact, in 2007 we were able to lower our tax rate. This year, in tough financial times, I felt it was especially important to use money from reserves and hold the line on taxes. Iím also proud to have supported an additional homestead exemption for low-income seniors, saving those in need an average of $100. A balanced budget is important, but the bottom line is that we exist to serve the citizens.
There is no other candidate with the institutional knowledge necessary to lead us into the future while preserving the values that make our small town special. We must continue our progress during the difficult economic times ahead and we must continue to provide superior services in an efficient, cost effective way. As your Mayor, I have demonstrated my ability to do all these things and I humbly ask for your vote on March 10th.
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