Frank Hibbard For Clearwater Mayor
While we were disappointed that Clearwater's two city council elections went uncontested this year, the mayoral race between Rita Garvey and Frank Hibbard has livened the city's political climate and given voters their first opportunity to select a mayor since 1999.
Garvey's campaign has focused on "good government" and long range planning, claiming that many of today's problems would not have happened with better planning. She promises an "open door" style of government that invites citizen participation.
But Garvey has not demonstrated a clear understanding of today's issues, and has offered few solutions. She has frequently said in response to questions about difficult issues that she could not make judgments when she did not have all the information. She promises to work with city staff after she is elected, and devise solutions then with the help of the other four council members.
Hibbard is both advantaged and disadvantaged by his incumbency. His track record includes support of projects, such as Beach Walk, Downtown Streetscaping and the Downtown Boat Slips, that have received criticism from some of Clearwater's citizens. But having spent six consecutive years as a Councilmember and Mayor, Hibbard is thoroughly familiar with today's issues, and has clear ideas on how to solve them.
One of the most critical issues facing Clearwater is the continuing effort by the state legislature to reduce municipal spending and taxation. Hibbard demonstrated his ability to reduce spending equitably in 2007, and has committed to do so again in 2008 should the statewide Amendment 1 tax reform measure pass.
Hibbard has also promoted public involvement in Council decision-making. He initiated the Council breakfast program, giving citizens the opportunity to meet with elected officials in an unintimidating setting to share ideas. The city's 2007 spending cuts have been accepted to a large extent because Hibbard insisted that the public be well informed so that they could help determine what should be cut and what should not.
While we admire Rita Garvey for having contested the mayoral election this year and for her past and continued public service, we feel that Hibbard is much better prepared to lead Clearwater for the next three years, and recommend that he receive your vote.
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