2017 Safety Harbor election candidates set

The 2017 Safety Harbor municipal election will see eight candidates vying for three open seats, including mayoral hopefuls Joe Ayoub and Janet Hooper. Election Day is Tuesday, March 14.

The 2017 Safety Harbor municipal election will see eight candidates vying for three open seats, including mayoral hopefuls Joe Ayoub and Janet Hooper. Election Day is Tuesday, March 14.

With the qualifying period having ended on Monday afternoon, there are officially eight candidates vying for three open Safety Harbor City Commission seats in the upcoming March election, including mayoral hopefuls Joe Ayoub and Janet Hooper.

Incumbent Mayor Andy Steingold announced his decision not to seek reelection in early December.

In addition to the mayoral contenders, four candidates will vie for Hooper’s vacated Seat #1, while incumbent Carlos Diaz will face competition from Luanne Lambert Seat #4.

Here’s a look at the eight candidates, listed in alphabetical order, and the positions they are running for in the municipal election on Tuesday, March 14, 2017:

Mayor:

  • Joe Ayoub
  • Janet Hooper

Seat 1:

  • Nancy Besore
  • Cameron Boozarjomehri
  • Damon Lister
  • Scott Long

Seat 4:

  • Carlos Diaz
  • Luann Lambert

The field is a mix of political newcomers and veterans.

Former mayor Ayoub, current commissioners Diaz and Hooper and former commissioner Besore have all spent time on the City Commission, while Long and Lister have both served on civic advisory boards.

While Boozarjomehri and Lambert are relative unknowns in the local political scene, each will have a chance to introduce themselves to the voters and make cases for their candidacies at the candidate forum on Thursday, January 19.

Future development of Safety Harbor's waterfront Park promises to be a hot-button topic in the upcoming election.

Future development of Safety Harbor’s Waterfront Park promises to be a hot-button topic in the upcoming election.

Much like the presidential election last fall, Safety Harbor’s 2017 municipal election is expected to be a contentious one, with many hot-button issues currently at the forefront of the community, including the Waterfront Park, downtown lot setbacks, Main Street growth and the development of the controversial Firmenich property.

Throw in Facebook feuds and the typical campaign-sign shenanigans, and the 2017 election promises to be a heated one.

For their part, the two mayoral candidates are trying to keep things cordial while getting their messages out to the voters.

2017 Safety Harbor mayoral candidate Joe Ayoub.

2017 Safety Harbor mayoral candidate Joe Ayoub.

“Safety Harbor is a great city and has been my home for 26 years, but there are areas where improvements are needed, and this requires real leadership,” Ayoub told Safety Harbor Connect via email. We need to make our downtown more vibrant and address the issue of empty buildings and vacant storefronts on Main St., which includes stopping the revolving door of businesses that come and then go out of business in a short period of time. We need to move forward with adding amenities to our Waterfront Park. We need to protect people’s property rights and work harder to maintain our small town charm. And most importantly, we need to reconnect with our sense of community and rise above the nastiness that is becoming more of a norm in our small town and replace it with a spirit of cooperation and a desire to find common ground. For this we need real leadership and that is why I’m running to be the next Mayor of Safety Harbor.”

Hooper had this to say when emailed for comment:

2017 Safety Harbor mayoral candidate Janet Hooper.

2017 Safety Harbor mayoral candidate Janet Hooper.

“Over the past two years I have been honored to serve the residents of Safety Harbor as your City Commissioner,” Hooper wrote. “During that time I have always put the residents first, meeting with those who had questions, answering emails on City issues and attending City and community events. I believe that the core personality of Safety Harbor is something we all cherish. Sustainable growth, maximizing our tax dollars to have the greatest impact and improving the business district are key issues this election. I live work, and volunteer in Safety Harbor. And, if elected as your mayor, I will continue to put our community first.”

The Safety Harbor candidate forum will be held on Thursday, Jan. 19 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Community Center, located at 650 9th Ave South.

The 2017 Safety Harbor municipal election will be held on Tuesday, March 14. Local precincts can be found on the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.

Stay with Safety Harbor Connect for complete coverage of Safety Harbor’s 2017 municipal election.

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