BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Hunt Brand swept into office with 60 percent of the vote in a special election Tuesday, confirming the seat he was appointed to.
Brand garnered 133 of the votes cast, besting challenger Joseph Barkley, a newcomer.
Brand has been on the commission since being appointed early in the year to replace Bret Nelson, who left the city.
He is a former mayor and after serving in that post ran for and was elected to the City Commission.
Brand made fire department issues a priority in his election campaign against Barkley. The current arrangement of the fire department with Largo looks like it will change.
At the Bluffs commission meeting last week, Mayor Chris Arbutine revealed that changes in the agreement with Largo were probably impending.
Belleair Bluffs entered into an agreement with Largo a couple of years ago that put Largo in administrative command of the fire department. The Bluffs is now paying $150,000 yearly to Largo under that contract.
With renewal of the contract coming up, Arbutine said that the item was removed from a recent Largo City Commission meeting.
This was before all the hullabaloo over Largo's former city manager, Steve Stanton, who expressed his intention to become a female.
Arbutine said that Stanton, while still in office, told him that Belleair Bluffs could either merge its fire department in the Largo department with Bluffs firefighters become Largo employees or that Belleair Bluffs could hire a chief and become totally independent again.
One key element in the fire department situation is the advanced life support service. Largo handles it now. The contract ends in September. Arbutine would like Belleair Bluffs to have it. Brand holds to the same position.
Brand is a strong advocate of Belleair Bluffs providing ALS service.
Belleair Bluffs and Belleair are cooperatively joined and the two split fire department costs. The fire department covers the two cities and nearby unincorporated areas south of Belleair Bluffs.
The fire department will be discussed at the commission's May 14 workshop meeting.