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Meet the Candidates for Commission Seat #1

Safety Harbor Recreation

What a beautiful winter it has been. Christmas lights galore and cool weather to accommodate all the outdoor festivities. Thank you City of Safety Harbor for setting the stage so locals could enjoy what matters most, making memories with family and friends.

Now that all the holidays have come to an end and the lights have been taken down, political signs are popping up. Incumbents, previous seat holders and a couple new names are running for the three Commission seats up for election on March 9th, 2021.

I have reached out to all the candidates to offer them an opportunity to introduce themselves. I hope to hear back from everyone. I will be presenting the candidates by seat number once I hear back from all the candidates running for that particular seat. Their introductions will be in alphabetical order using the last name.

SEAT 1 – Nancy Besore, Heather Norton, Lorraine Duffy Suarez

NANCY BESORE – I am running as the incumbent. I would love to serve three more years because I love engaging in community service. I am an ardent supporter of our Friends of the Library. I have interest and compassion in listening to residents’ concerns.
As many of you are aware, I recently lost my life partner, John Such, of 25 years. Much of my nearly 30 year life and identity in Safety Harbor revolved around John. We raised four cats and four dogs here on 13th Avenue South. I ushered at Espiritu Santo’s 7 a.m. Mass with John for many years, until his health declined. I am a Spa member. Often, I met many of you there, or around town with my mom, Noreen, during her seasonal visits to the Safety Harbor Motel.
Recently, my elder sisters have spent winters here, also residing at Safety Harbor’s Motel. They love Safety Harbor’s natural beauty. I am grateful I have been a vital part of park land purchases, and land preservation. I am grateful residents have trusted me as their Commissioner from 2009-2014 and 2018-present. 
I hope you will check out my city bio at cityofsafetyharbor.com/298/Nancy-Besore for my professional resume. I humbly ask for your vote March 9th.

HEATHER NORTON – I am delighted to have the opportunity to share on this forum. There is an art to developing a healthy and vibrant community, while preserving our wonderful parks and green space. We really have something special here. My motivation for running for local office is my desire to help preserve the small-town charm of our city, protecting our sanctuary spaces while cultivating a welcoming and sustainable community for families and future generations. The outlook is “how can we best steward the land space with which we have been entrusted?” I have spent the last decade serving our community as an ob-gyn. Service in our local government is a natural progression. The fact that I am new to our city government is in many ways a strength. I am not tied to or influenced by any special interest groups, and that frees me to be able to represent our community in a fair and balanced light. Trust is important to me. While representing you I will recognize your individual importance within the community as a whole. I will take the knowledge we have, apply it to each novel situation, weigh the risks and benefits and work to make the best plan to support and preserve the residents who give life to this community. 

I pledge to protect the unique serenity here in the Harbor that makes it that much more endearing to call “Home.”

LORRAINE DUFFY SUAREZ – candidate for Seat 1 City Commission, urban planner, adjunct professor of planning at SPC, Planning & Zoning Board Chair, community volunteer and resident of Safety Harbor.  My 30+ years of experience as a public sector urban planner has prepared me to tackle the types of decisions our City has to make.  I have worked alongside thousands of residents to set goals and carry out plans for their community.  Finding perfect solutions to complex community issues is no easy task, but I have found that listening to diverse voices to frame the problem and potential solutions is the straightest path to consensus. During my career I have worked to protect critical wildlife habitat and wetland areas, develop regulations to protect unique community character, and preserve historic places.  I pledge to do the same for Safety Harbor.

  • My commitment to you is to uphold our treasured assets, such as our beautiful tree canopy, our natural shoreline, wildlife habitat, quaint downtown and our overall quality of life. I will work to:
  • develop an environmental asset plan to provide oversight and protection to City owned natural resources
  • improve citizen access to City information
  • engage diverse voices in City decisions
  • renew our City vision, last updated in 2007, to reflect current community values

I co-founded Safety Harbor Inspired Planners (SHIP) with other planners to organize community-building events like on-bike scavenger hunts and have volunteered for several community events.  I respectfully ask for your vote for City Commission Seat 1. Learn more: electDUFFYSUAREZ.com

Thanks ladies for your time and best of luck to you all!


  1. I would like to know their political affiliation as I do not vote for those that do not have the same values that I have for God, Country and Freedom of our Rights!

  2. Maybe the candidates would like to explain how they would assure that the Commission give specific direction so that issues such as described below are dealt with. The original post regarding the Black Cadillac Escalade was posted on 11/16/20 and the post below two days ago, both on Nextdoor.

    The driver of the Black Cadillac Escalade (really an SRX) has struck again. He shadowed a woman through the streets West of N. Bayshore this past MLK holiday. The woman borrowed a phone and called 911 (the phone’s lender attests to the presence of the Escalade somewhere on Virginia). By the time officers responded (14 minutes) the Escalade (SRX) was gone. Since Monday the Escalade (SRX) has been seen prowling the Park and N. Bayshore neighborhood. He was there again most days last week and Monday, Tuesday this wee.

    There is a law (856.021 F.S.), reproduced in part below, that addresses the behavior exhibited by the Escalade (SRX) driver. Section 2 of this Statute provides for police procedures prior to an arrest for prowling. Section 3 sets forth penalties.

    This Statute was upheld by a 1975 Florida Supreme Court decision that consolidated four cases. Another Supreme Court decision upheld the law, but, vacated a guilty verdict because the officers did not precisely follow procedures in the Statute, essentially not informing the party of Miranda rights prior to questioning.

    Bottom line: There is a law that could be brought into play regarding the behavior of the Escalade (SRX) driver; Safety Harbor and Oldsmar women have attested on this site and in conversations that they modify their behavior (carry pepper spray, modify routes, experience angst) due to the alarm and concern created by actions of the Escalade’s (SRX) driver.

    There appear to be grounds and cause to at least question the Escalade (SRX) driver. Law enforcement questioning the driver, after Miranda notice, to potentially dispel concerns about his conduct will make the driver aware of the law and hopefully be a deterrent. Until the behavior of the Escalade (SRX) driver is fully allayed the ladies of Safety Harbor and Oldsmar will need to continue their search for peace of mind.

    “856.021 Loitering or prowling; penalty.—
    (1) It is unlawful for any person to loiter or prowl in a place, at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals, under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.”

  3. Is there a reason the Connect is not posting information about the Candidate Forum on Wednesday Jan 27? I submitted a post here yesterday with the Zoom meeting links from the city website but it has not been posted yet. Thanks in advance for helping to get the word out on this opportunity to hear from and compare the candidates running for seats 1, 2 and 3.

  4. Is there a reason the Connect is not posting information about the Candidate Forum on Wednesday Jan 27? I submitted a post here yesterday with the Zoom meeting links from the city website but it has not been posted yet. Thanks in advance for helping to get the word out on this opportunity to hear from and compare the candidates running for seats 1, 2, and 3.

  5. I agree that a forum is warranted regarding seat one. A forum is a good way to get to know all the candidates better and where they stand on issues/plans for the city.

    I would also like to know where the city and the candidates stand on the old Firmenich property. The last I heard the property is sitting in some kind of “limbo”.

  6. This is extremely disappointing! Why would a candidate deny to be included in a virtual Forum. He or she should not be a candidate if they are not willing to talk about what they are for and/or what are their plans if elected. Totally unbelievable! I’ll be interested to find out what candidates aren’t willing to participate in a virtual forum. Ugh!

  7. Why wouldn’t a candidate want to participate in this Safety Harbor tradition? Many rely on the Candidates Forum to inform their vote. Seems like an odd decision for someone who wants the seat, especially if the forum is offered virtually. Please report on the candidates’ reasons for participating or not participating. At minimum, I can use that to inform my vote. Thank you for the local news coverage! ❤️

  8. Unfortunately not all the candidates are willing to participate in a forum. The Spa has volunteered a socially distanced space and a Zoom forum has been presented.

  9. I also would very much welcome a forum as well; not that community residents need to be in the audience but that it is facilitated and zoomed for all the residents of Safety Harbor. There is no reason why one cannot be held as work life is now done via microsoft teams, zoom and using others types of technology. The city of Safety Harbor and other cities around FL have had to move their commission meetings and other board meetings to being held virtually. Why can’t a forum occur in a similar format?. Heather Hildick, creator of this article, I encourage you to push the voice to have a virtual candidate forum be held where “all” candidates participate so residents are able to learn what candidates feel about the opportunities for Safety Harbor and for those wishing to be re-elected, what improvements, contributions and decisions have you made for the betterment of our town of Safety Harbor.

  10. This introduction is great but when will the Candidates Forum be held??? Hearing how the candidates respond to questions is more telling than a prepared campaign pitch. I’m sure the forum will not be an in-person gathering like in years past but a Zoom meeting might be even better; more people could listen from the comfort of their homes.

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