After Much Apathy, Political Interest in Largo Heats up
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - One source of news in Largo, often taken for granted and therefore overlooked and not appreciated for what it is, underlines what seems to be a sea change in Largo political life.
The Manager's Report, which hit issue Number 900 last week and dates back to 1993 when it was begun by Steve Stanton, Largo's last professional city manager, is worth reading because it often contains a nugget of news or highlights a trend.
Such was the case in Number 900, which gave an update on the apparent red-hot interest in November's city election, still about 3 ½ months away.
The picture in Largo, sad enough, in recent years has been the apathy on the political scene. Not the case this year with six candidates already in harness for two commission seats.
This is extraordinary given recent history.
For example, Gay Gentry, a former commissioner served the better part of two terms on the City Commission and was never elected.
Gentry was appointed in the first place to take Marty Shelby's seat who had resigned to challenge incumbent Bob Jackson for the mayor's job. And that was the first challenge Jackson had faced.
Those with a long memory will remember the hullabaloo that was set off in the commission chamber when commission members named Gentry. It was obvious that it was a foregone outcome with apparent agreement among commission members in advance.
Harriet Crozier, who has been on the commission all of this century, is once again seeking to keep her seat. No one can remember when she had competition.
Mayor Pat Gerard, through a fluke, had no competition last November in her race for re-election.
The political climate in Largo has heated up and some observers think that perhaps the days of apathy are over.
Robert Hunsicker and Robert Avery are challenging Crozier for her Seat 5. Both Crozier and Hunsicker are fully qualified, with their petition signatures verified. Avery's cards have been submitted and will undergo examination.
Also qualified is Woody Brown, seeking a second term, in his Seat 6. Douglas Lardner, who has submitted petition cards to be verified, is challenging Brown. So is John Atanasio reportedly on the verge of having his petition cards verified.
It is a long time to Election Day, November 2, in the political sense, and more candidates could emerge. The candidate-qualifying period began July 12 and will end next Monday at 5 p.m.
A training class for candidates and their campaign treasurers was held last Saturday. That is a clear signal that the campaigning time is off and running.
Then there will be a drawing for ballot position at the August 3 commission meeting. That's only 12 days away.
Why the change and renewed interest in Largo politics?
One veteran observer and former commission member credits Commissioner Curtis Holmes who was elected to the body last November, promising to "think outside the box."
"Holmes has turned the city on its ear," the observer, who asked not to be identified in the small town backbiting atmosphere of Largo, said.
"He has awakened the citizenry to a lot of goings on in the city that have gone unnoticed. For too long, we've had commission members who are satisfied with going along with anything, asking no questions, sitting tight and collecting pay checks."
Return to Current Edition