Nina Bandoni Says Goodbye to Safety Harbor
Former Safety Harbor City Commissioner.
That’s the title Nina Bandoni will have to adjust to now that she is no longer sitting in Seat 4 at City Hall following her decision not to run for reelection in March’s special election.
“After much consideration and soul searching, I’ve decided not to run for reelection,” Bandoni said back in December.
“Changes in my personal life may necessitate a move from Safety Harbor, and though this move is not immediate, I did not want to commit to a third term that I may not be able to carry out.”
But just because Bandoni, who was first elected in 2008, isn’t on the commission anymore doesn’t mean she won’t be busy.
Safety Harbor Connect reached out to Bandoni to ask her about her tenure as commissioner, in which she was known for her deep knowledge of housing, budgetary and other issues as well as her levelheaded approach to solving any matter that came before the commission.
Here are her responses to questions ranging from her favorite part of being commissioner to what the future has in store:
-Tell us a little bit about your professional background.
I spent my early career in the mortgage banking industry, starting in loan servicing then moving to lending. As I progressed, I worked on larger and larger loans learning a lot about real estate, lending and the construction industry. I worked full time and put myself through college at night. I graduated from Eckerd College with a degree in business. In the late 1980’s I went to work for the City of St. Petersburg, helping to establish several housing programs including the ACTION Fund, and the WIN program both designed to help lower income families buy and or renovate their homes.
It was then that I found a passion for community development; seeing neighborhoods turn around and become more desirable places to live. I then went to work for a non-profit organization which provided loans for large apartment complexes for low and moderate income households. I found the work very rewarding and interesting. In 1999, my daughter was born. I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could, so I established my own company, now known as Community Development Concepts, which provides real estate development services as well as strategic and business planning mainly for non-profit organizations.
I have always enjoyed “giving back” and volunteered for many organizations including Junior League of St. Petersburg, the Community Service Foundation, and hosted four foreign exchange students. I have served on several boards most recently on the Low Income Housing Leadership Network, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, and Pinellas Planning Council. I have also spent many years volunteering at my daughter’s school.
I came from a very “political” family, my grandfather was mayor of our town, and my aunt and uncle both also held public office. I, however, never liked politics and when I heard my parents and grandparents debate various issues as a child, I didn’t think I would ever want to run for or hold public office, and thus never gave it a thought.
In 2007, a friend suggested I run for Safety Harbor City Commission. Something just clicked. I was quite surprised to hear myself saying yes, and then jumping in to run a campaign. I tend to be an introvert, and thus campaigning was quite a challenge–pushing me way outside of my comfort zone. I am grateful to have won, and have enjoyed serving the residents of Safety Harbor very much.
-Why did you decide not to seek reelection?
My daughter grew up with my being in office, and is now attending high school in Tampa. As she becomes more active at school, I find myself spending more time driving, and felt that it might be better if we lived closer to her school and friends during the next several years. Thus, I have decided to look for a home closer to her school –temporally!
Over the past several weeks, as I have considered moving, I have been driving around Safety Harbor a lot, and I know I will really miss this community. I have lived in Safety Harbor for 22 years. I hope to return after my daughter graduates.
-What were some of the challenges of being commissioner?
Every job has its challenges, but I feel lucky that Matt Spoor and his staff have been really great to work with. I also found that even though we didn’t always agree, I have great respect for my fellow commissioners. we got along very well, even after lengthy debates. Certainly some of the decisions we had to make were difficult, but I aways tried to do my homework and think through the long and short term consequences as well as listening to as may viewpoints as possible before casting my vote.
-What things did you like the most and the least about being commissioner?
I enjoyed being a commissioner, though I am still a bit introverted, so probably the most difficult thing for me is walking up to people I don’t know and strike up a conversation.
-With so much change happening in Safety Harbor, where do I think the city is headed?
We have weathered the recession, and finally came to a balanced budget which is something I felt very strongly about. With the economy improving, I think the city is poised to attract new businesses, and I hope that we will continue to choose to guide the city to become more environmentally conscious, and maintain the beautiful parks, and the city’s quaintness.
-What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue to raise my daughter to be strong, and independent, focus on my company, Community Development Concepts, continue ice dancing and spend lots of time with my friends. I have enjoyed serving the community and would not rule out running for office at some point in the future, but have no plans to run at this time.
I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve and look forward to seeing great things from the new commission.
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