By Leo Coughlin
If ever there was a case of voters expressing a view with a very dramatic exclamation point, it happened in Indian Rocks Beach last week on Election Day.
A troubled community, socially, politically and financially, just a few years ago, IRB has become stable and steady. The unsettling and upsetting elements have been run out and good sense has returned as proven by last week's vote that affirmed that good sense.
Stable folks in IRB who pay attention to public affairs hope that the last vestiges of that undesirable element died out last week.
They hope that the very emphatic support for Mayor R.B. Johnson and the no-question-about-it rejection of Don House express without any doubt that a corner has been turned.
What is so surprising - and undoubtedly the only surprise - was the resounding way in which Johnson triumphed. He got 72 percent of the vote, House a pathetic 28.
Johnson was quoted somewhere as saying it was the ugliest campaign he had ever seen. Maybe you had to be there right in town to know that.
House's message in seeking office was published mostly through broadcast emails in which he warned against development. There was little "ugliness" in that except for the fact that it misrepresented where Johnson was on the question.
Johnson - and his family - have been around Indian Rocks Beach for a long time and he, now beginning his second term as mayor, has always been a helpful, quiet, good natured and benign figure.
If there was anyone in public life who wanted this seaside combination resort and hometown community to keep its small town atmosphere it would be Johnson. Hardly a guy who had open and welcoming arms for developers. Plenty of development has taken place in recent years and there is enough of it for right now in the estimation of many.
People are now very cautious. Those booming real estate prices, with lots of folks getting rich on paper if not actually riding the crest of the wave and selling when the market was high is a dream (good and bad, depending on where you are now) of the past.
The reckoning here is that this was House's third failed attempt for elective office in IRB.
A question that was raised was "third strike and out?"
One answer was cautiously made by a leading Indian Rocks Beach figure who of necessity must remain unidentified. The fear is that there remains an underlying feeling of discontent.
Then there is the aftermath, hangover - whatever it is - from the days of a former mayor who still fumes because Johnson ousted him from office two years ago and he is said to lash around madly Lear-like (well, sort of) in his frustration.
And there are adherents to this view who combine - with less effectiveness as time goes by - to try to upset the applecart. In this case, the try was made against Johnson. It didn't work.
Last week's result in Indian Rocks Beach was not one of those "Whew! We made it through a close call."
It was a resounding victory for Johnson and good sense and it seems the voters know that IRB is on the right path.
Further, deponent sayeth naught.
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