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Voters Have Choices in Seminole Election

Leslie Waters | Darren Clark | Politics

By ANNE LINDBERG, Tampa Bay Reporter

Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters is facing a challenge in her bid for reelection. Three candidates are vying for two spots on the council.

SEMINOLE – Five people have qualified to be on the ballot this November in the race for Seminole mayor and City Council.

Mayor Leslie Waters is facing a challenge from first-time candidate Darren Clark, a business owner. In the race for the two seats on the council, voters have a choice of incumbent Thom Barnhorn and challengers Jim Olliver and Kelly Wissing. Incumbent Jim Quinn, who holds one of the seats, is not seeking reelection.

For Mayor

Clark says he is running for mayor to “try to clean up some things I don’t like.” Among those, he says, are city employees who are not responsive to the needs of Seminole residents.He said he is speaking from experience, saying that city officials ignored him when he asked for help with a roofer who did substandard work. And, he said, the city is lagging behind when it comes to infrastructure repairs and improvement. Instead of doing things like repairing sidewalks, he said, the city is spending money on un-needed items like a water park across from Lake Seminole Park on Park Boulevard and the purchase of a house across from City Park to use as parking for events.

The city, he said, would be better served by spending that money elsewhere, like its employees. Seminole firefighters, he said, need to be paid better. Many are leaving Seminole to go to departments with better pay and benefits.

“We’ve got to take care of our own people here,” Clark s aid. “I think we could do better as a city. … It’s time for new blood, new thoughts.”

Clark was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Seminole about eight years ago. He owns Professional Restoration Services of Tampa Bay, which specializes in disaster restoration.

Waters has been Seminole’s mayor since 2012 when she was chosen as interim mayor. She has served on the Seminole council since March 2009. She served as vice mayor from 2010-2011 and was chosen interim mayor in November 2012 when then-Mayor Jimmy Johnson stepped down because of health issues. She was elected mayor in March 2013.

Before serving on the Seminole council, Waters served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1998-2006. From 2006-2008, she served as speaker pro tem for the State House. She left the house because of term limits.

“I am running for re-election to continue to govern and help guide the city through several major city park projects – the development of Waterfront Park, the renovation of Orange Blossom Park, and the transformation of the Repetto property into a revenue generating park,” . Also, to help oversee plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the city’s incorporation in 2020, and to continue to oversee our strong fiscal stability.”

The Repetto property is the house that Clark says is not needed.

For City Council

Thom Barnhorn | Politics | Seminole |
Thom Barnhorn

Barnhorn, a financial advisor, has served on the Seminole council since 2006 except for about two months in 2009 when he lost an election in March of that year. He was appointed in May 2009 to fill an empty seat and has been reelected since. He served as vice mayor from 2006-2007 and 2013 to 2015.

He is a past president of the Suncoast League of Cities, and former Eighth District director of the Florida League of Cities. He currently serves on the National League of Cities small cities steering committee and the National League’s finance, administration and intergovernmental relations steering committee.

Barnhorn said his passion is serving the city, which is why he is running for reelection.

“I think we as a council have done really really great stuff for the city of Seminole and I want to see it keep happening,” he said.

Jim Olliver | Politics | Seminole
Jim Olliver

Olliver is the founding provost of the Seminole Campus of St. Petersburg College. He retired from SPC in 2015 after 35 years at the college and 45 years in education. Olliver is chair of the city’s municipal firefighters’ pension trust fund board of trustees, vice chair of the city of Seminole’s 50th Anniversary Celebration committee, and president and board chair of the Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce. He served as chair of the Pinellas County Charter Review Committee from 2015 to 2016 and was a member of the city of Seminole’s charter review committee in 2009. In 2014, he again served on the Seminole charter review committee as vice chair.

He has lived in the Seminole area for more than 30 years; at least 17 of those years he has lived in the city.

This is Olliver’s first run for public office.

“The reason I’m running is because I think I can be an effective member of council to deal with the increasingly complex” issues facing Seminole, Olliver said.”I have no agenda other than to improve the city.”

Olliver said he believes his skill set – administrative and financial experience and training – would be a good fit for a job on the council. Among the issues he sees facing the council are infrastructure needs, strategic spending of Penny for Pinellas funds, and maintaining the city’s strong financial standing.

Kelly Wissing | Politics | Seminole
Kelly Wissing

This is Wissing’s second run at the council. She ran last year and gained the endorsement of the International Association of Firefighters, Local 2896 – the union representing Seminole firefighters. In a five-member field with two seats up for grabs, Wissing came in third behind incumbents Chris Burke and Trish Springer.

Wissing grew up in Seminole. She has served on the Starkey Road Elementary School Advisory Council, including a stint as chair of the group. She has also been a member of the Starkey Elementary PTA member and is a past board member of the organization. She is a surgical consultant.

“My mission has always been to represent the people of Seminole,” Wissing said.

If elected, Wissing said, she would bring fresh ideas and a fresh outlook to the council. Wissing said she would also bring a fresh perspective  to the council by being a voice for families and employees. She vowed to be in Seminole’s neighborhoods to hear the concerns and ideas of everyday people to the council table. And, she said, she would provide a voice for Seminole’s employees.

Seminole has a seven-member council comprised of a mayor and six council members that serve for three-year terms. The mayor and council are elected at large in a nonpartisan election.

The council meets at least twice a month and is responsible for passing a budget, setting policy and hiring a city manager and city attorney. The city manager is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the city. The mayor is paid $11,000 annually and council members are each paid $8,200 a year. The Seminole budget is about $18.4 million a year.

Seminole’s election is Nov. 5. The last day to register to vote in the election is Oct. 7.

For information about Clark, go to facebook,com.

For information about Waters, go to

For information about Wissing, go to

For information about Olliver, go to

Main photo shows Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters, left, and challenger Darren Clark.

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