Opinion: Seel – Vote ‘Yes’ for ‘Full-Time’ Clearwater Mayor
Tampa Bay Reporter does not take stands, endorse, nor support candidates or issues. However, we do accept guest opinions on issues in the Tampa Bay area. Today, Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel urges Clearwater residents to vote to change their style of government from a council-manager format to a strong-mayor structure. Seel was born and raised in Clearwater, served as a Clearwater council member from 1996-1999, and has represented Clearwater in District 5 as a Pinellas County commissioner since 1999. She currently lives in Belleair.
This November, the citizens of Clearwater have a once in a lifetime opportunity to vote Yes on the Clearwater referendum to empower voters to elect a mayor who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of City Hall.
The current system is slow, difficult to navigate, and unpredictable – but most importantly the person running City Hall is unelected and has no ability to set policy or take action when residents raise concerns. Furthermore, the Mayor does not currently have the authority to make any executive decisions and cannot speak on behalf of the city at a regional level on issues like transportation.
As a result of these organizational deficiencies, Clearwater is left out of regional discussions and cannot take efficient action on behalf of its citizens when neighborhoods voice concerns and seek help on local issues.
Voting “Yes” on the Clearwater referendum will alter our charter so Clearwater residents have a full-time elected Mayor who is accountable to the people.
What exactly does the referendum do?
The full-time mayor will be required to engage the community and articulate a strategic vision the citizens can rely on and use to hold the mayor accountable. The referendum requires that the mayor propose an annual budget tied to strategic priorities with a public explanation and presentation to the Council. Additionally, the referendum requires the mayor to publish a status report every December tracking the outcomes of the strategic priorities.
Voting “Yes” on the referendum also puts in place a series of checks and balances for elected city councilmembers and voters. First and foremost, City Council has the authority to approve or modify the mayor’s proposed budget, sign off on major department hires, and hire its own independent auditor.
Additionally, voting “Yes” on the referendum puts checks and balances in the hands of the people of Clearwater. Currently, the mayor can be elected without a majority. This is especially concerning when there are three or more people on the ballot. The referendum would raise the bar and help protect us from special interests by requiring the mayor be elected by more than 50 percent.
Finally, the mayor would be limited to two four-year terms and would face voters in the ballot box at reelection. Clearwater’s current unelected city manager has no term limits and is never subject to election.
The citizens deserve a strong voice representing them on crucial issues such as protecting and preserving our neighborhoods, transportation, the environment, economic development, job creation, public education, and public safety.
Vote “Yes” on the Clearwater referendum to give the citizens a full-time mayor, accountable to the voters, and subject to term limits.
For information about the proposal, go to fulltimemayor.com.
Note from Tampa Bay Reporter: The referendum will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Today (Oct. 9) is the last day to register to vote in the general election and referendum. To register online, go to registertovoteflorida.gov.
Karen Seel | Clearwater Mayor | Full-Time Mayor | Politics | Elections | Referendum | Tampabay News
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