Garvey to Challenge Hibbard for Mayor,
Cretekos, Doran Unopposed
by Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - The last day of qualifying for the 2008 Clearwater Municipal Election passed with only four candidates satisfying the requirements to run for three offices that were up for grabs.
Council members George Cretekos and John Doran were unchallenged in their quest for reelection, and each will serve another three-year term.
Mayor Frank Hibbard will be facing a single challenger, former Clearwater Mayor Rita Garvey, who completed her last term of office in 1999.
Garvey is running to encourage public involvement in their city, and to offer Clearwater's citizens a choice. "I don't think people are not running because they're satisfied; I think they're not running because they don't think they can make a difference," Garvey said, disappointed that she will be the only challenger in the 2008 election.
Garvey clearly thinks she can make a difference, and plans to conduct a personal campaign. "The basic concept is grass roots. Get your friends and neighbors involved," Garvey said. And she is encouraged by the support she's received to date; "The message I'm getting from the public is, 'Go for it Rita.'"
Hibbard says that he will be running on the strength of his record. "I'm going to go out and do the same thing I've been doing for the last three and six years, which is continue to talk to people and listen to them and tell them about some of the good things that have happened," he said.
Hibbard will also be touting the influence he's had on the Tampa Bay Region. "Nobody's had more regional contacts and impact than I have," he said, "from being chairman of the MPO [Metropolitan Planning Organization] to being on TBARTA [Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority], to working with Pam [Iorio] and Rick [Baker] to make sure that Clearwater is at the table on decisions of regional impact."
With Election Day only two months away and the likely campaign inactivity during the intervening holiday season, the mayoral race will be running on a compressed schedule. Garvey and Hibbard will face off at two planned candidate forums: December 12, sponsored by the Clearwater Beach Association; and January 16, sponsored by the City of Clearwater and televised live on CVIEW-15.
In addition to determining Clearwater's mayor for the next three years, the January 29, 2008, election will include several referenda, including lengthening the term of elected office to four years, establishing a Charter Review Committee at eight year intervals, and allowing the donation of city-owned land for workforce or affordable housing.