3 Candidates, 2 Commission Seats; Peter Romano Would Have to Win Both Races to Become the Mayor
Lewis, Ken, The Florida Times Union
Byline: KEN LEWIS
Three candidates will battle for two positions in the general election for the St. Augustine City Commission.
Mayor George Gardner is stepping down to run for Seat 3 against Peter Romano, while Romano also squares off against Commissioner Joseph L. Boles in the race for mayor.
Because of St. Augustine rules, a candidate must win a seat on the commission before becoming mayor, so Romano would have to win both races to be mayor. If he won the mayoral race but not the commission seat, he would be disqualified. Boles, who was unopposed in the primary, is guaranteed Seat 5 on the commission regardless of whether he becomes mayor.
Voters will have a chance to change the mayoral selection process in the general election. A proposed change would designate Seat 3 as the mayor's seat, lasting two years. Residents would vote for a mayor-commissioner, instead of a mayor and a commissioner, according to the city. On the ballot, a yes vote will approve the change and a no vote supports keeping the current system in place.
Voters will also have a straw ballot on zoning density issues. They will be asked whether they want the city to adopt an ordinance prohibiting subdivison of lots unless each resulting parcel meets zoning requirements.
The incumbents did some seat-shuffling before the primary. Boles, incumbent for Seat 3, abandoned the seat to pursue Seat 5, which he won in the primary without opposition. Gardner, incumbent for mayor and Seat 5, left both to pursue Seat 3 in the general election. Commissioner Donald Crichlow, incumbent for Seat 4, won his seat without opposition in the primary.
Romano said he is running for Seat 3, a two-year term that pays about $13,300 annually, because it will give him enough time to make positive contributions and allow voters to know his impact and priorities. Boles wanted a four-year seat and the mayoral position to allow more time for "vision and the implementation of those visions." Gardner said he was giving up his mayoral seat, which pays about $17,700 annually, to show that you don't have to be mayor to serve your community.
Candidates' attention has touched on historic preservation of neighborhoods, city zoning and a comprehensive plan.
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ST. AUGUSTINE MAYOR
JOSEPH L. BOLES
Residence: St. Augustine
Education: bachelor's degree in design, University of Florida; juris doctorate, University of Florida College of Law
Background: city commissioner for two years
Family: three daughters
Web site: none
What do you think too much time and resources are spent on?
In the past two years, I have not learned of anything that is taking too much time and too many resources other than the Bridge of Lions, of course! I believe this commission, especially city staff, are quite resourceful and good stewards of the taxpayers' resources.
What things are being neglected?
I'm not aware of any areas that are being neglected. I am sure, however, that there is some citizen somewhere who feels like his issue is not being put at the top of the priority list. And on some occasions, that is me.
How would you describe your leadership management style?
My personal style is one that I would describe as practical and pragmatic. I believe in identifying people with good skills and getting out of the way and let them do their work. Micro-management is not the role of a mayor with a good staff.
Why do you want the mayoral seat?
I believe any community should be led by a person who is willing to advocate all positions because everyone deserves a seat at the table. In St. Augustine that means being pro-residents, pro-business and pro-visitors. Our community cannot function if we pit one against the other in every situation. …