BELLEAIR BEACH - Donna Durante, a former member of the Belleair Beach City Council, has stepped back into the political ring and will be a candidate for mayor in the March election.
Qualifying for seats on the City Council ended Friday.
Councilmember Lynn Rives also announced for mayor, leaving his council seat open. That will be filled by Rob Baldwin, a newcomer to the political scene.
Also filing for council seats are incumbents Kathy Mortensen and Stan Sofer.
Because the vacancies and candidates as council members are equal, there will be no contest for any council seat.
The only contest will be for the mayor's chair which is being left open with the departure of Rudy Davis. Davis said two years ago, when he defeated Bert Cutler for what was then an open seat, that he would serve only one term. He was true to his word.
Durante was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election to the council last March when she and Marvin Behm, also an incumbent, joined with Mike Kelly as a ticket.
All three were defeated.
That ensured that Jeff Coulson, the top vote getter in March, would keep his seat, and brought two newcomers - Mary Schoonover and Richard Crowl - to the council.
Kelly had been mayor but chose, in 2005, not to run. His attempted comeback, for a seat on the council last March, went down to crushing defeat and apparently was a repudiation of him for his performance, many thought, as mayor from 2001 to 2005.
Voters very clearly rejected Kelly in March. He got the fewest number of votes of all candidates, and a mere 12.31 percent of the electorate found favor with him.
Rives, seeking the mayor's seat, has served two terms on the council.
Also on the March 13 ballot will be a referendum in which voters will be asked to give approval for the City Council to possibly contract with another agency for police services.
If that green light is given, it figures that the Sheriff's Office will probably get the nod but the question is worded to leave options open for the council to seek other agencies, like Clearwater or Largo.
What those two cities would charge for police services is not known, but the Sheriff's Office has submitted figures that show a big savings for Belleair Beach.
Also hanging fire on that issue is the status of the new city hall. If the current city police force is retained it will require space in the new building. If not, then the city hall will require much less space and cost.
The ordinance approving the referendum faces a second reading next month and is expected to pass.
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