He is young in years, but mature in exerience and outlook; fairly new to politics, but sensitive to the needs of his city.
Meet Frank Hibbard.
He is Clearwater's new mayor, having taken office last month unopposed, a circumstance he did not think would happen.
Although he is full of ideas for Clearwater, a city struggling now with growing pains and facing tough decisions in what paths to take, when he discusses his city's future it is with gravity and deliberate words.
One of the big projects Hibbard wants to push is to make Clearwater a "well city."
That is, an all-out effort to enroll people in well ness programs, monitor health and make available remedies. "I want us to be the first ‘well city' in the Tampa Bay area and the third in the state," Hibbard says. He points out that Jacksonville was the first such city in the country and that Gainesville has joined the ranks.
Another project high on his "to do" list is a revival and establishment of a viable senior center. "I will have a blue ribbon task force to see what works and what doesn't."
Joining those ambitious goals is Hibbard's plan to resinstate a "full" Veterans Day celebration. "We have to go to places like Palm Harbor when we could be holding an extensive celebration here," he says. "I want to make the weekend closest to November 11 a celebratory time." It's in the works for this year, Hibbard says.
Another plan is to have a monthly breakfast bringing together citizens and council members. This would be on a small scale but many individual such breakfasts spread over the year.
"I'd like to have eight to 12 citizens join elected officials and a staff member to talk about common concerns," Hibbard says, emphasizing that the citizen input would not be confined to prominent and influential members of the community only, but a cross-section of people from all over the city and from every strata.
Health maintenance is very much on Hibbard's mind. Not for himself alone, but as a community effort. He talks with brief sadness of the loss of both his parents to cancer and is involved with the fight against that disease. He has been on the H. Lee Moffitt board for several years.
While Hibbard's roots are in Chicago where he came into a family as the youngest of six children, he has strong ties to Clearwater that go back to his early years. He attended Clearwater High School, then it was back to Chicago before returning here where he graduated from Countryside High School in 1985.
When he attended Florida State University, he was a busy student, taking separate bachelor degrees in economics and finance. A few years later he was back in Tallahassee to earn a master's degree in business administration.
Hibbard met his wife, Teresa Duffy, who was originally from Washington, D.C., at Calvary Baptist Church where he has been a member dating back 26 years.
Before joining Morgan Stanley where his office on the seventh floor of the Atrium on Cleveland Street overlooks his city, Hibbard worked for A.G. Edwards as a broker and for Huntington Bank.
He won elective office in 2002 when he ousted Ed Hart from his seat on what was then called the commission. It has since been more properly renamed the council.
As to the redevelopment going on, which is the hottest issue in Clearwater, Hibbard says he wants a diverse mix -- hotels and motels, large and small and condominiums. "Balance is critical in all areas," he says.
Hibbard's political career has been as a new star rising in ascendancy rapidly. As mayor, he is in an office he did not anticipate holding so soon.
But he obviously is prepared -- through education, demeanor and style -- for whatever comes.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition