Arbutine, Hamilton-Wollin Keep Seats; Russo out, Shimkus Fails
By Leo Coughlin
Incumbents were returned to office in Belleair, Indian Rocks Beach and only one upset of an office holder in Belleair Bluffs in municipal voting Tuesday.
While Bob Russo lost a bid for another term on the City Commission, Mayor Chris Arbutine turned aside a challenge from Commissioner Dave Shimkus.
Terry Hamilton-Wollin held on to her seat in Indian Rocks Beach while Steve Fowler and Stephanie Oddo, both incumbents, were returned to the Town Commission in Belleair.
Belleair’s mayor, Gary Katica, went unchallenged while Fowler and Oddo split 85 percent of the vote with Brad Ackerman finishing with only 14 percent of the vote.
Suzy Sofer, with 409, was the top vote getter in Belleair Bluffs, winning a two year term along with Jack Nazario who got 37.8 percent of the vote, about two points behind Sofer. Russo garnered 237 votes.
Joe Barkley won the contest for the one-year term to finish out the seat left vacant by Shimkus. Trailing Barkley were Wanda Rusinowski with 210 votes (32.26 percent) and Gary Nemes at 17.67 percent with 115 votes.
The hard fought battle in Indian Rocks Beach left Don House in the dust with slightly more than 29 percent as Phil Hanna bested the field with 495 votes and 37.9 percent. Hamilton-Wollin had 429 votes for 32.85 percent.
A charter amendment to put the IRB treasurer under the jurisdiction of the city manager passed by 52.41 percent, 391 to 355 votes.
Tuesday’s voting gives the Belleair Bluffs commission a very different look, with only Arbutine and Hunt Brand returning familiar faces.
Gone are Shimkus, Russo and Troy Krotz, who did not seek re-election. All were familiar faces for a number of years. The Russo loss was seen as and upset.
Hanna will be a new face on the IRB City Commission, joining Mayor R.B. Johnson, Cookie Kennedy and Dan Torres along with Hamilton-Wollin.
Much of the controversy in IRB was over the hangover from financial concerns that have plagued the city for the past several years. The city now has a new city manager and treasurer in place.
There was virtually no change in Belleair with Fowler and Addo being returned to office.
In Seminole, former state representative Leslie Waters gained a seat on the Seminole City Commission.
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