Home / Government / Five candidates qualify for March 17 election

Five candidates qualify for March 17 election


Five candidates will be vying for two seats on the Safety Harbor City Commission in the March 17 elections.

The mayor’s race will be between incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub and Tampa firefighter Tanja Vidovic. 

The race for Commission Seat 4 will be between incumbent Commissioner Carlos Diaz, David Roth and John Patrick Estok.

The deadline to qualify for the ballot was Monday. Election Day is March 17 and the deadline to register to vote is Feb. 18.

A Candidates Forum is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 30 at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.


  1. This bickering and smearing needs to stop……nationwide. Candidates just need to tell us why we should vote for them and leave it at that. This country has a black eye from political smear campaigns which have done nothing but divide our great country. It’s ugly and divisive and totally unneccasary.
    We are so much better than this. No matter who gets elected, let’s work together to help our great town prosper. Everyone has a right to vote for their candidate of their choice and shouldn’t get backlash for it because it differs from others. That’s Democracy.
    Good luck to both candidates and lets focus on the tasks at hand once the election is over and not backlash for those that didnt get your vote. We all have to work together regardless who wins.
    Remember this, not just town wise but country wise…”United We Stand, Divided We Fall”
    Let’s stay united so that this awful political climate doesnt get any worse than it is right now. It’s frightning to see that the national political climate is having an effect on small town elections.

  2. This bickering and smearing needs to stop……nationwide. Candidates just need to tell us why we should vote for them and leave it at that. This country has a black eye from political smear campaigns which have done nothing but divide our great country. It’s ugly and divisive and totally unneccasary.

  3. Everyone should watch former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s endorsement of Mayor Joe Ayoub for Safety Harbor’s Mayor. You can see Mayor Buckhorn’s endorsement on https://youtu.be/0TFTiPRT14o

    Mayor Buckhorn was an excellent Mayor of Tampa and he knows both Joe Ayoub and Tanja Vidovic. Mayor Buckhorn was clear that if the residents of Safety Harbor want to have continuous drama, conflict, division, threats, lawsuits, and problems with residents and city employees, then they should elect Tanja Vididovic. On top of all these problems, Tanja has no government experience, no qualifications for the Mayor’s job, no financial background, and no budgeting experience. It appears that Tanja’s most frequent encounter with our government has been with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and being fired by our City’s Human Resources Department.

    On the other hand, Mayor Joe Ayoub has 10 years experience being our City’s Mayor and City Commissioner, 10 years of helping to set our city budget, 10 years of working with neighboring City Mayors, with Pinellas County officials, State Representatives, and City employees. Mayor Ayoub is a Certified Public Accountant who has the knowledge and experience to balance our City’s budget and continue making our city a great place to live. Former Mayor Buckhorn is right that Safety Harbor’s choices for Mayor could not be more different. We can either choose professionalism, experience, stability, knowledge and moving forward or we can have 3 years of drama, conflict, division, threats, lawsuits, and endless problems.

  4. I personally think Joe Ayoub has done a commendable job as Mayor, and I plan on voting for him again. In his time as Mayor, downtown Safety Harbor has improved tremendously with new parks, new businesses, new housing, new/upgraded infrastructure and amenities, and new recreational facilities. I realize not all of those changes can be attributed to the current leadership, but I also know that other mayoral candidates would have done everything in their power to stall those projects; they campaigned on it!
    I’ll never understand the school of thought that any change or development in Safety Harbor is automatically bad and endangers its “small town charm”, but there’s certainly nothing charming about a lifeless downtown with no one around and nothing to see or do when it’s not between 6 and 9 p.m. on Third Friday, nor is there any small town charm involved in having to drive 20 minutes to a strip mall in Clearwater any time I want to go out or go shopping. At a time when many small-town Main Streets are becoming forgotten, lifeless eyesores, it’s heartening to see ours visibly revitalized.

    • Really great points made and I agree with much of what was said, however something far worse than having a dressed up downtown is the fact it’s being gobbled up by a church. If people think Tanja is stripping away rights and implementing her vision I would just like to remind everyone of how slow government moves but a certain church with bottomless pockets moves very fast. I have been a proud resident of 34695 for 7 years. I have seen a lot of hate and bitter undertow stoked by masked actors. Some on Joes side will claim I am one of those- I have never been masked and I am always working for the good of this community and our neighbors

  5. Yes! The website listed above was on a business card which is being distributed to residents who have Tanja Vidovic’s signs in their yard. Joe Ayoub and his followers bash anyone who dares to challenge him. This is an excellent indicator of the type of person I no longer want in the mayor’s office! I voted for Joe twice; I will not make that mistake again!

    • Sheri K.- It is Mayor Ayoub who is the one who has been slandered and continually lied about by Tanja and her supporters at Saving Safety Harbor. Without any evidence, Joe has been accused of being corrupt and taking kickbacks from developers. Joe has also been falsely accused of having voted to approve the condo tower in our downtown even though the project was approved before he was a city commissioner. At the debate, Tanja even falsely accused Mayor Ayoub and the commissioners of raising the City’s millage rate last year when this actually never happened.

      As for Tanja, she has been a Safety Harbor resident for only a few years and has spent her time bullying park workers at Philippe Park, her next door neighbor and her child, our City Arborist, Baranoff Park employees, and the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board. These are not false allegations, but are actually documented incidents that can be seen in police reports, government reports, and in a city termination letter. Making all of these documents public is not bullying, but is showing the voters important facts about Tanja’s background which will help the voters make an educated choice during this election.

      It is important to note that after all these years of false accusations against Mayor Ayoub, Tanja and her supporters have not produced a single document to back up any of their false claims against Joe. It appears that you are upset with all of the reports made public that document Tanja’s repeated bullying of others. If you are upset that the facts in Tanja’s police reports, government reports, and in her city termination letter make Tanja look bad, you need to blame this on Tanja and not on the people who made these documents public.

  6. Based on all the comments here can’t wait to vote for Tanja Vidovic!
    She has guts and is not afraid to voice her opinion on serious issues so naturally you label her as crazy. The bigger issue here is that she is a woman, look what happened last time we had a female candidate. She was also bullied. Also thanks for that link that’s meant to be hateful, it actually proves my point that she’s being wrongfully attacked. Fighting against companies that spray unnecessary chemicals in the park? Oh what a horrible person.

    • Joe B.- This is not an issue of Tanja voicing her opinion about an issue. Tanja could easily have gone to the Pinellas County Commission and voiced her opinion there. She could have petitioned them to change their policy of spraying chemicals to control invasive plants in Pinellas County Parks. Instead, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s police report, she bullied County park workers at the park for a week by yelling profanities at them, threatening them, and trying to prevent them from doing their job. The workers had to call the police to protect themselves from Tanja who was screaming at them and was out of control. Tanja had to be physically removed from the park and was banned for 1 year.

      Tanja is no victim. Tanja has repeatedly harassed others including her next door neighbor who had to call the police to protect herself from Tanja who was repeatedly threatening her. Tanja’s threats were so bad that her next door neighbor even had to remove her child from her elementary school. Tanja even threatened our City Arborist Art Finn’s job at a meeting with him. This incident was brought before City Commission which passed an anti-bullying resolution to protect our city employees from harassment and intimidation from residents like Tanja. Due to Tanja’s threatening and harassing behavior, she was also fired from her job with Safety Harbor’s Leisure Services Department. Tanja even threatened Baranoff Park workers who were removing old dying trees in order to create our new Baranoff Park.

      All of the police reports and the termination letter that have been posted clearly show that Tanja is the bully and is harassing others in Safety Harbor. Tanja is not being “wrongfully attacked” because she is a “female candidate.” Tanja has been campaigning on promoting “government transparency” and we agree with this policy. What could promote “government transparency” more than revealing to the public the numerous Pinellas County Sheriff police reports involving Tanja and also showing a City of Safety Harbor termination letter revealing that Tanja was fired for threatening and harassing a city employee.

  7. On multiple times during the last 18 months, Safety Harbor residents, City of Safety Harbor employees, and Pinellas County Park workers have had to either call the police or file employment complaint reports to protect themselves from Tanja’s extreme behavior of harassment and intimidation.

    On September 5, 2018, The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office police report details how Ms. Vidovic harassed park workers “not allowing them to finish their job”. Tanja approached the worker’s trucks and “yelled profanities at them on several occasions.” Tanja also “continuously disrupted their business by yelling and video recording his employees”. Also, Tanja “continued to follow the contractor around the park for several days and refuses to let them do their job”. The report continues that “… Scott Coulter, who is the Preservation Manager for all north county parks, (stated) to have the female suspect trespassed from Philippe Park due to her actions causing a disturbance and not allowing the paid contractor to complete their job”. The end of the report stated “I followed up with the subject, who was identified at this point by her Florida driver’s license as Tanja Vidovic, that she was being issued a trespass warning and needed to leave the park. I explained to Tanja that she was not allowed to re-enter the park or she would be subject to arrest for trespass after warning”. (Tanja was banned for 1 year from visiting Philippe Park)) The entire police report can be seen at https://www.dropbox.com/s/phckf8xy1sib1z1/Vidovic%20trespass%20Philippe%20Park.pdf?dl=0

    On September 18, 2018, The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office police report details how Ms. Vidovic harassed her next door neighbor and the pest control company they had hired. Tanja’s next door neighbor stated that she was forced to call the police because “Tanja has been continually harassing her on Facebook” and she had to go “as far as removing her child from the school in Safety Harbor due to the harassment”. The Manager of Mosquito Joe Pest Control stated “his employees have been harassed by Tanja in the past. Tanja’s next-door neighbor felt threatened and “had recorded the events on her I-Pad due to past incidents”. The entire police report can be seen at https://www.dropbox.com/s/0qf9aam06u5ryn8/Vidovic%20Police%20Report–Pest%20Control.pdf?dl=0

    On August 8, 2019, Ms. Vidovic threatened our City Arborist Art Finn’s job at a meeting with him. This incident was brought before City Commission which passed an anti-bullying resolution to protect our city employees from harassment and intimidation from residents like Ms. Vidovic. On August 22, 2019, Tanja was fired from her job with Safety Harbor’s Leisure Services Department for intimidating a fellow city employee. In the termination letter, it states “there have been multiple situations to which you (Tanja) are involved that have been disruptive in the workplace and are in conflict with the atmosphere that the City supports”. “The City strives to foster a productive and pleasant working environment by maintaining and atmosphere of civility, courtesy and mutual respect… please allow this letter to serve as you dismissal” The City of Safety Harbor’s termination letter to Tanja Vidovic can be seen here. https://www.dropbox.com/s/umafse8uhr0vune/Vidovic%20dismissal%20letter–City%20of%20Safety%20Harbor.docx?dl=0

    These police reports and termination letter clearly document Tanja’s outrageous harassing behavior since she arrived a few years ago in Safety Harbor. I believe that if Tanja could not even hold onto her part-time job with the City’s Leisure Services Department, then how is she going to lead this dynamic city of 18,000 residents for the next 3 years? Also, how can she be a successful Mayor with absolutely no qualifications, no prior government experience, no budgeting experience, and possessing such poor judgment and temperament? I hope presenting these facts helps the Safety Harbor voters make an informed decision when they vote soon on March 17th.

  8. Tanja sounds like a real troublemaker and I don’t think someone like her should be the Mayor of Safety Harbor. I agree with the comments above that we want someone with knowledge and experience leading our city. We need a mayor that will bring stability and not the unpredictability of Tanja. Anybody can protest a cause, but few can lead this growing city and find solutions to our city’s day to day problems. Tanja appears to be the least qualified and most unpredictable candidate that I have seen in the 25+ years that I have lived in Safety Harbor.

    • Mark,- It appears that you may be correct that if Tanja becomes the Mayor of our city, she intends to bring chaos to our city government by trying to fire our great City Manager Matt Spoor. She will then try to get other City Hall workers fired just like she threatened to get our beloved City Arborist terminated a few months ago. We have already seen how Tanja has mistreated workers at Philippe Park and at the Baranoff Park. For me, it is really scary to think about the chaos this great city may suffer if we elect Tanja Vidovic as our city’s next Mayor as she tries to fire our City Manager along with our many experienced staff employees at City Hall.

    • Mark,- I noticed how you never explained why you consider our City Manager Matt Spoor and his staff awful for our city. City Manager Matt Spoor and his staff have helped transform Safety Harbor into the beautiful city that you see today. They helped bring our City many new amenities including the new Waterfront Park, the beautiful boardwalk overlooking Tampa Bay, the Bayshore Linear Greenway Recreational Trail, Folly Farm Nature Preserve, Mullet Creek Park, an expanded library, a renovated museum, and an expanded community center with a new fitness center,

      We now have a revitalized and vibrant downtown and a city that looks more beautiful everyday. Our residential property values have never been higher and local realtors have waiting lists of people who want to buy any property that becomes available in our downtown area. During the last several years, Safety Harbor has been named “Tampa Bay’s Best Suburb”, “One of the Top Ten “Old Florida” Cities “, and “One of the Best Places to Live in Florida”. We can give much of the credit to Matt Spoor and his staff for their vision and hard work which helped transform Safety Harbor into the most beautiful city in the Tampa Bay area.

  9. I love the changes that have taken place in Safety Harbor based upon decisions made by the current Mayor and Commission. Great places to visit like restaurants and shops have come into Safety Harbor based upon these changes to make it a more walkable, bikeable, sustainable and vibrant community. In the last election, Mayor Ayoub won by a 60% vote and he ran on the above principles. We are and have been seeing these come to fruition over the last few years and I am grateful. I moved to a downtown area because that is what a downtown is all about: walkable, bikeable, sustainable and vibrant. I don’t use my car except to drive a very short distance to work and wish I had other options for transport as I would totally get rid of my car. I grew up in a city where we walked to get groceries, walked to parks and the library. My parents only had one car and my dad used it to get to work. My grandparents never had a car . I feel like I am getting back to those younger years with walking and biking to the places I need to go and only supporting local businesses. That’s what it is about, supporting local instead of big box. I’d also like to thank Mayor Ayoub of his continued support of building the tree canopy. My neighbors have benefited from the free trees the city has given and the multiple times this has been done. During this holiday season be thankful and grateful for all the good changes in Safety Harbor which the Mayor and Commission have brought to this city. Continue to support candidates Joe Ayoub and Carlos Diaz to support positive decisions for our city. I was here over 25 years ago and most will agree, the downtown was blighted and distressed. We have seen positive changes over the years. Support the jewel of Tampa Bay and the absolutely positive things that have occurred for our downtown.

  10. Joe C. You are absolutely correct, as far as I can see there is nothing on Ms. Vidovic’s resume which shows any qualifications or skill sets to manage a large organization with a 75B budget.
    I would like to see a leadership change in our City but I am afraid we have not been given any good options in the mayoral election.

    • Why do we need a change when everything in the city is going great. The mayor and the commissioners have done an outstanding job on the budget,growth and transparency. Therefor I see no reason to change our incumbents especially with someone with no government knowledge or experience just for the sake of change .If it works leave it alone.

    • Unfortunately we had a excellent option with Janet Hooper during our last election; however, Joe Ayoub and his supporters bashed her as well. This is the tactic that they continue to resort to; bashing and belittling and telling half truths.

  11. Some people these days love a political bully who challenges the status quo, and recently it has become a part of our American political culture. Though on the surface it may seem courageous, in reality bullying is irresponsible and immature method to getting your way. A bully also gathers others of like-kind-of-thought and then tries to forces the rest of us to their way of thinking. Ideally a mayor is a team leader, involves imputes from others, and works for the better meant of the community as a whole. From my observation, as a resident of Safety Harbor for 30 years, the past few years has been great for our town for so many reasons – thanks to the current commissioners and mayor. That said, the loud vocal minority has been heard, and I assume their concerns and input – when civil and respectful, will be taken into account by Joe and the city commissioners when making decisions – that is what a democracy is all about.

  12. It is amazing to see that Tanja Vidovic, with her history of bullying, being recently fired from her City of Safety Harbor job, and having no qualifications for the mayoral position, now believes that she should be the Mayor of Safety Harbor. Ms. Vidovic has lived in Safety Harbor for only a few years and controversy follows her wherever she goes.

    On September 5, 2018, Ms. Vidovic had to be physically removed from Philippe Park by a Pinellas County Sheriff as she tried to physically prevent a park employee from doing his job as he was spraying an herbicide to remove some invasive plants at the park. Her outrageous actions resulted in a 1-year ban from Philippe Park. On August 8, 2019, Ms. Vidovic threatened our City Arborist Art Finn’s job at a meeting with him. This incident was brought before City Commission which passed an anti-bullying resolution to protect our city employees from harassment and intimidation from residents like Ms. Vidovic. On August 22, 2019, Tanja was fired from her part-time position with Safety Harbor’s Leisure Services Department for intimidating a fellow city employee.

    At the August 19, 2019 City Commission meeting, Ms. Vidovic’s next door neighbor stated that Tanja continually harassed her and her pest control company for using pest control on their property. The harassment was so bad that the pest control company refused to return to Tanja’s neighbor’s property and the neighbor even had to remove her child from an elementary school because Tanja was causing harassment of the neighbor’s child there too.

    On June 12, 2019, Tanja attempted to intimidate workers at the Baranoff Park by live streaming on Facebook their removal of dead and dying trees. Ms. Vidovic did this even though removal of these trees was part of the unanimously approved city plans for the new Baranoff Park. She told everyone watching to call City Hall to stop the removal of these dead and dying trees. Her actions resulted in many nasty and angry calls to our City officials and a lot of lost time for our city employees.

    Unlike what Tanja says about Safety Harbor, our city has been getting better every year and we are commonly known as “the Jewel of Tampa Bay”. Residential property values have never been higher. We have added four city parks during the past decade and Safety Harbor has become so attractive that the Hallmark channel recently filmed a movie here. All this positively will be reversed if Tanja is elected Mayor and the city becomes mired in lawsuits and endless controversies. Being the Mayor of Safety Harbor with its 18,000 residents and an annual budget of over $76 million is a very serious position. However, Ms. Vidovic offers no qualifications for the position and will bring our beautiful city only endless problems and controversies.

    • This is nothing more than a copy and paste smear from Joe “C” Ayoub himself. People who read this need not to forget how Joe cares more about money than he does about the well-being of the citizens of this town. Time for us to tell Joe No and replace him with a strong, courageous, kind, loving, mother who listens to people and will tackle issues our town faces without hesitation. When the establishment tried to smear you, you know you are doing something right! Keep fighting for the people of this great city Tanja! People before Profits!

      • Lee, – I am certainly not Mayor Joe Ayoub. I am simply a resident of Safety Harbor who sees a candidate running for Mayor who has absolutely no government experience and has little understanding of how our government works. I see a candidate who has poor judgment, is severely lacking in temperament and self control, and who has mainly caused trouble in our community since her arrival here only a few years ago. Tanja has consistently caused trouble with her neighbors, our city arborist, our city park employees, our City Hall employees, and even with the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board.

        I believe that if Tanja ever became the Mayor of our city, the amazing progress that this city has been making would be quickly reversed. As Mayor, Tanja would spend her time grandstanding on every issue and picking fights with people causing the city to become mired in costly lawsuits and endless controversies. It is important to note that Tanja has never served as a City Commissioner or on any City board. She lacks any qualifications or relevant job experience to be Safety Harbor’s Mayor, Due to having no relevant experience, Tanja has resorted to giving herself the title of “Environmentalist” as if this qualifies her to lead a city of 18,000 residents with an annual budget of over $76 million.

        Finally, I noticed that although you said I was smearing Tanja, you never once challenged any of the facts that I presented about Tanja’s past in Safety Harbor. If presenting the facts about Tanja makes Tanja look bad, you need to blame this on Tanja and not me.

      • It is sad when you cannot support your candidate with qualifications, so you choose to attack the opposing candidate. Let’s see some facts. Let’s see proof where Joe Ayoub has ever profited from being Mayor. These old rumors have never been substantiated. The City of Safety Harbor will go on getting better every year, it will outlast the handful of negative, spiteful people.

    • I’m thinking you need to do some fact checking. Your bellicose and hyperbolic language lacks verisimilitude.

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