Clearwater City Council members voted unanimously to appoint former Mayor Brian Aungst Sr. to fill out the remaining 11 months in Frank Hibbard’s term.
Sources previously told Florida Politics such a vote was likely.
The vote came one week after Hibbard abruptly resigned citing concerns about the $90 million plan to replace Clearwater City Hall, a project that is running at a $60 million deficit.
Aungst served as Clearwater Mayor from 1999 until 2005, when he left office due to term limits. Enough time has passed since his service and those term limits no longer apply.
Several influential members of the Clearwater community lobbied City Council members for Aungst’s appointment, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Aungst’s son, Brian Aungst Jr., is a local lawyer who often represents clients before city staff and City Council on land use and development issues. The conflict posed a potential problem for City Council members. They secured a number of restrictions to mitigate any concerns.
Aungst Sr. said he will recuse himself from any items involving his son or his son’s firm. He also agreed to refrain from discussing any projects on which his son is working. And Aungst Jr. agreed to stay out of the 2024 election for a permanent Mayor, a move that responds to the younger Aungst’s propensity toward supporting local candidates and issues.
The Aungst name has become synonymous with Clearwater over the past two decades.
The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, now known as AMPLIFY Clearwater, named Aungst and his wife, Karen, Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater in 2017, the organization’s highest honor.
Aungst served during one of Clearwater’s most transformative periods, including the hotel and resort boom in 2001 on Clearwater Beach that revamped the local hot spot into an international destination. He oversaw projects such as the new causeway, a new stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies spring training and minor league squads, new recreation centers and the city’s Main Library.
During his unexpected resignation last week, Hibbard said it was important the City Council appoint a replacement who didn’t want to run for Mayor. He presumably recommended Hoyt Hamilton, a former City Council member who won $1 million in 2021 on a Powerball ticket and was looking forward to retirement and traveling with his wife, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Aungst may bring that same benefit. He retired from his position as director of state government affairs for Charter Communications in 2018, a company for which he worked for 30 years through several ownership and name changes. Aungst retired to care for his wife who was battling brain cancer. She passed later that year.