Meet the candidates for Clearwater Mayor

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The race offers an eclectic mix of candidates.

The same day Floridians head to the polls to vote in the 2020 Presidential Preference Primary, Clearwater voters will decide who should represent their city in a mayoral and two City Council races as well as six ballot questions.

The candidates vary widely and include a former Mayor, an environmental activist, a City Council veteran and a small-business owner. The election is March 17.

Here’s a rundown of the candidates, presented in alphabetical order.

Elizabeth “Sea Turtle” Drayer

Drayer made headlines when she entered the race with the intent to run as a sea turtle. Her goal, she told the Tampa Bay Times, “is to elect a nonhuman to give nature a voice.”

It sounds tongue in cheek, but Drayer’s unique campaign tact is one born of her deep environmental concerns. She considers herself an environmental activist and wants to expand that to bring ecosystems and animals into the political sphere including by allowing them to vote and hold office, figuratively speaking.

Drayer is not planning to actually have a sea turtle represent voters and instead would serve as an official representing their interests.

Drayer has acknowledged her messaging might cause some problems, but said the goal was to raise awareness about broadening voting rights and political representation.

She’s running on a pro-environment platform including transitioning Clearwater to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, according to the Times.

Frank Hibbard

Hibbard has experience on his side. He served as Clearwater Mayor from 2005 until 2012 and, before that, as a member of City Council, a ten year tenure during which he touts perfect attendance at all meetings and work sessions.

In addition to his elected leadership experience, Hibbard also currently chairs the Ruth Eckerd Hall Board of Directors where he helps facilitate music and drama courses for 37 schools throughout the Tampa Bay Area.

Hibbard is also a board member for the Homeless Empowerment Project, a group that provides low-income families struggling with housing security with food, clothing, support services and housing to help them become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.

Hibbard is running on a platform committed to fiscal responsibility and building the city’s reserves, leading a nationwide search for a new City Manager and City Attorney as both current employees are set to retire, creating jobs and a business-friendly environment and improving the quality of life for residents by increasing access to amenities like parks and libraries.

Bill Jonson

Jonson served two three-year terms as a City Council member, leaving office after reaching term limits. As a City Council member, Jonson served as Clearwater’s representative to the Florida Suncoast League of Cities and to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s Board of Directors.

Jonson also currently chairs the Courtney Campbell Scenic Highway Advocacy Group that led efforts to build the bike and pedestrian trail across the bridge. He also sits on the Forward Pinellas Citizens Advisory Committee that works on local transportation priorities.

Jonson has also served on committees that oversaw transportation and urban affairs and affordable housing initiatives.

His campaign priority is to establish more inclusivity between city policymaking and planning and the residents those decisions affect. He wants residents to have more say in city planning by reestablishing stakeholder groups to propose recommendations for city projects, in some cases.

Morton Myers

Myers owns two small businesses in Clearwater. Dairy Kurl, an ice cream shop, and Tampa Bay Pawn, a pawnshop.

He’s running as a conservative, but touts the fact that he does not have any party affiliation.

Myers wants to work on environmental sustainability, growing small businesses, reducing the city’s investment burden in downtown by creating a plan that works for all citizens, not just “big groups,” improving access to affordable housing and improving roads.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


One comment

  • Bill Jonson

    January 8, 2020 at 4:11 am

    Ms. Taylor’s article correctly reports that Bill Jonson, one of the current candidates for Clearwater Mayor, served two three-year terms on the Clearwater City Council before being termed out. What it does not include is that after he sat out for three years,he was reelected twice to two additional four year terms before once again being termed out of office. So he was servant leader in Clearwater for a total of four terms on the Council.

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