Clearwater's downtown boat slip referendum has promised to be a hot issue in the March 13th election, and it has not disappointed. Both sides have voiced credible arguments, and Clearwater's voters will decide the issue next week.
But at times, City of Clearwater and its supporters have appeared to be waging a personal campaign against Anne Garris, and not for the boat slips. City Council members referred to her as someone who "can't be reasoned with" during their discussion of referendum language. A daily newspaper published letters to the editor that amounted to personal attacks on Mrs. Garris. The City's Public Communications Director was overheard saying, "I don't just want to win; I want to beat them (Save the Bayfront) so badly that they won't come back."
And rather than creating a level playing field for debate of the issues, some public forums appear to have been set-ups. Some "questions" posed by attendees of the debate between Garris and Hibbard at the February 21st Clearwater Rotary meeting were no more than prolonged statements in support of the boat slips, with no question asked at all.
The Clearwater Gazette has long supported open public debate of the issues affecting our community. We are pleased that Mrs. Garris and Mayor Hibbard have accepted our invitation to present their arguments in this issue. Please read their columns carefully and cast an informed vote on March 13th.