Traffic, Taxes, Hurricanes Focus of Seminole Candidates
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
Three of the four candidates for the two available seats on the Seminole City Council spoke at a forum Friday. A second forum is scheduled Monday.
SEMINOLE – Three candidates running for the Seminole City Council agreed that the city is well run but has some challenges.
Among those challenges are traffic and taxes, particularly the effect if the Penny for Pinellas sales tax is not renewed. The Penny is also on the ballot.
The three – Roger Edelman, Bob Matthews and Joseph E. Pacelli – spoke Friday (Oct. 20) during a forum at the Seminole Garden Apts. A fourth candidate, Tom Christy, declined to take part, organizers said. Edeleman and Matthews are running for reelection. Pacelli is a first-time candidate. Christy is making his eighth run for the council.
A second forum for Seminole candidates is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Monday (Oct. 23) in the Digitorium on the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. Edelman, Matthews and Pacelli have accepted the invitation. Organizers said Christy has declined. The forum is open to the public.
Seminole has a council-manager form of government in which a seven-member council, consisting of a mayor and six councilors, set policy while a city manager handles the day-to-day business of the city. The council is not only responsible for setting policy, it is responsible for passing a budget and hiring the city manager and city attorney.
Council members serve three-year terms and are paid $8,200 a year. They meet at least twice a month. The nonpartisan election is voted on citywide. Two seats are up for grabs. Voters can vote for up to two candidates and the two top vote-getters will take office. The election is Nov. 7.
Edelman, president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, is seeking a second term o the council.
“Seminole is one of the best run cities in Pinellas County and in the state,” Edelman said.
The city, he said, has seen many changes for the better in the past few years with the development of Seminole City Center, formerly Seminole Mall, the renovation of Blossom Lake Park, and the creation of a waterfront park on Park Boulevard.
But traffic is a problem. Edelman said the city has asked the county for a traffic study and is trying to work with the county to get traffic lights and timing improved.
“I really want to see if we can do something with the traffic lights and the traffic,” Edelman said.
Like the other two candidates at the forum, Edelman supports the renewal of the Penny for Pinellas. The 1-percent sales tax (a penny on each dollar) contributes about $2.2 million a year to the city’s budget. Losing that money, which is directed toward infrastructure, would likely have an adverse impact if it does not pass.
As it is, Edelman said, Seminole is facing a budget challenge because of an additional property tax exemption that is projected to decrease Seminole’s property tax revenues by about $400,000 to $500,000 a year.
For information about Edelman, go to facebook.com.
Matthews, who owns Seminole Garden Florist & Party Store, has served on the Seminole council since 1990 with the exception of eight months in 2006-07.
“We’ve come a long way but we still have work to do,” Matthews said.
For Matthews, the important issue is fiscal responsibility and managing the city’s spending wisely. With the redevelopment of Seminole Mall into the Seminole City Center, he said, the property tax base should be stable and, if enough money comes in, Matthews said he’s like to be able to reduce the property tax rate.
Should the Penny not pass, he said, the city would not be in financial trouble because it has managed building projects well. But the lack of funds going into the city’s budget for infrastructure could halt or slow future projects. But, he said, the loss of that money is something Seminole could handle.
Matthews agreed that traffic is an issue that needs attention.
“The traffic is in our face because of growth,” Matthews said.
For information about Matthews, go to facebook.com.
Pacelli is a native New Yorker with a varied background that ranges from film school and work in Hollywood to a stint in the Navy working, among other things, drug interdiction out of south Florida. He attended medical school for a short time until he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and now has a home remodeling business. Pacelli said he decided to run for the council because he did not realize Edelman and Matthews would be running for reelection.
“It’s been a very well managed city, ” Pacelli said of Seminole. “I would hope to maintain that excellence. … You’re the gold standard and we want to maintain that.”
Pacelli agreed that the timing of traffic lights in the city needs work. Pacelli said he’s also concerned about hurricane preparedness. If elected, he said he would work to evaluate the city’s response to Hurricane Irma and to improve upon it. He said he was particularly concerned about making sure residents who have special needs are taken care of.
Photo shows, left to right, Roger Edelman, Bob Matthews, Joseph Pacelli. Photo by Anne Lindberg, TB Reporter.
Seminole City Council | Election | Roger Edelman | Bob Matthews | Joseph Pacelli | Local News
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