WAYNE CAROTHERS – “I want to give back to a city that has treated me well,” says the Vietnam Veteran and owner of a local A/C company. Carothers, who grew up in the East Gateway neighborhood, says operating a small business has taught him to spend carefully and listen to employees. His biggest challenge has been government intrusion, and he is in favor of less regulation and wasteful spending, and more support to create jobs. “Let businesses do what they do best and that's generate business,” he says.
BILL JONSON – A City Council veteran, served from 2001 – 2007. While in office, he developed a reputation for asking tough questions. He says the biggest issue facing Clearwater is budget cuts, and wants to bring back the budget task force and increase government transparency. He believes improving Downtown Clearwater requires dealing with landlords, whose demands on occupants can make it difficult for small businesses to thrive, and attracting new types of businesses. “Clearwater cannot thrive on just retirement and tourism,” he says.
JOE PAIGE – A 29 year Florida resident, is “a small business owner with small town values.” Paige believes Clearwater’s biggest problem is over-regulation, which “smothers the entrepreneurial spirit,” he says, making it tough on small businesses in the city. He advocates lower taxes, smaller government, and private property rights. He says the city should invest in projects benefitting the city as a whole, believing current policy spends money to appease individual neighborhoods. Paige also proposes cutting the $19,800 annual salary for council members by 10%.
HERB QUINTERO – is best known for the lengthy court battle over his mural on The Complete Angler, which the city claimed violated the sign ordinance. The city settled out of court. Quintero says the case, “Shows the public what the tone is in the management of the city.” But he’s moved on. “I'm not running as a vendetta,” he says, “I'm running because I want to change the way the city is perceived,” noting the city’s reputation as unfriendly to small businesses. “The wants and needs of the public should come before the wants and needs of the bureaucracy.”
PAUL GIBSON – the sitting Vice Mayor, is running for re-election. He supports fiscal responsibility. “The City must live within its means, just as city taxpayers must do everyday,” says Gibson, who advocates a freeze on new project spending unless those projects are self-funding. He supports private-sector partnerships, notably the beach parking garage. Gibson commissioned the Matrix efficiency study of the Clearwater Police Department, and wants efficiency studies done of every city department. “It's not true we can't do things better,” he reasons.
MIKE RIORDON – a local business owner, has innovative ideas for the city. While some – like converting city properties to solar or wind energy – have been called pie-in-the-sky, Riordon says, “I’d rather have pie-in-the-sky than pie-in-the-face.” Focusing on water scarcity, he says drilling has more risks than benefits, advocating desalinization. Riordon says the city involves itself in unnecessary litigation costing taxpayers money (e.g., Quintero’s case) and should stop harassing small businesses with stifling codes and regulations. He also wants the citizens to choose the city administrator by vote.
The Clearwater City Council Elections are on March 9th. A candidate’s forum is scheduled for February 23th at 7:00 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers.