Advocates for Boss Mayor Make Confusing Claims, Opponents Say
Clearwater voters will decide on election day whether to change their form of government from a council-manager format to a strong-mayor structure.
CLEARWATER – Opponents say Clearwater voters are scratching their heads after receiving a recent mailing from Tallahassee-based Accountable Government.
The Accountable Government group wants to change Clearwater’s form of government in a Nov. 6 referendum.
Clearwater, as the case with most Florida cities, uses professional city management accountable to the directly-elected council and mayor. The referendum seeks to place control in the hands of a strong mayor, granting him or her almost total administrative and political authority.
So why the head scratching?
“The mailer is designed to mislead the voters. It infers ‘changes’ to the election process and term limits that are already in effect,” said Beth Rawlins, who chairs the No Boss Mayor group of Clearwater citizens who oppose the change. “They are trying to play us for fools.”
Former Clearwater Council member John Doran said, “One such claim is that the mayor will now be elected by Clearwater citizens. But that’s already been the case with the mayor and council members.”
Another claim on the mailer states that the mayor will be term limited to eight years.
“The mayor is already term limited to eight years,” former Mayor Rita Garvey said.
“Our city manager is accountable every single day,” Hamilton said. “He can be fired at the next council meeting if desired. A strong mayor is there until the next election.”
Kelly S. Kelly, a 30-year resident of Clearwater, scoffed at the mailer’s statement that the city needs a full-time mayor.
“If anyone thinks our present mayor [George Cretekos] only puts in part-time hours, they should try following him around every day,” she said.
Cretekos receives an annual salary of $24,755.36. If the strong mayor proposal is approved, Clearwater citizens will be paying a minimum of $120,000 annually for a mayor.
“Let’s continue what’s been successful for nearly a century,” Rawlins said. “If it’s not broken, we don’t need to fix it. And voters shouldn’t be fooled by misleading campaign claims. The fact is, installing a boss mayor would be bad for Clearwater.”
The strong-mayor referendum is on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Today (Oct. 9) is the last day to register to vote in the general election and in the referendum. To register online, go to registertovoteflorida.gov. Mail ballots are being voted now. Early voting begins Oct. 22.
For information about No Boss Mayor, go to nobossmayor.com.
Photos of yard signs courtesy of No Boss Mayor.
Clearwater | No Boss Mayor | Politics | Election | Referendum
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