Meet the Candidates: South Pasadena

Three candidates are running for the two available seats on the South Pasadena commission: Dan Calabria, Gigi Esposito and David Magenheimer. Voters may vote for up to two of the three candidates. Elections will be held Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

Via email, the Gabber asked each candidate the same questions for this introduction. Responses were limited to 100 words each, and have been edited for style and grammar only.

For more information, go to mysouthpasadena.com.

Introductory Q&As

1. What is your background and how long have you lived in the city of South Pasadena?

2. What is the main reason(s) you are running for office?

3. If elected, what three key issues do you want to emphasize?

4. What do you want voters to know about you?

Dan Calabria

1. I have been a resident homeowner in South Pasadena since 1992, 25 years. I’m a graduate of St. John’s University, Brooklyn, NY, BBA, Accounting, 1957. I enjoyed a 40-year career in the mutual fund management industry, the last 30 years of which [were] in executive management positions. I moved to Florida in 1986 when I was recruited by Templeton Funds Management Corp. in St. Petersburg as president and CEO. In addition, I had earlier served as Executive VP of the Oppenheimer Funds, 1965-1977. I have also served as an independent director of several mutual funds after Templeton was acquired by the Franklin Funds in 1992 and as an arbitrator for the New York Stock Exchange and FINRA for seven years.

2. Controlling expenses to avoid any additional tax increases. Focus on the real needs of our residents, more than 50% of whom are over 50 years of age and to fully support our local businesses. Create a more welcoming, friendly approach to new businesses. For example, I initially contacted Wal-Mart in 2010 and over the next three years, which resulted in their opening their Neighborhood Market at the Pasadena Shopping Center in 2013. My previous service to the city as a member of the Charter Review Committees in 2001 and 2007 and as a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committees for Mayors Kathleen Peters and Dick Holmes have given me the insight and knowledge necessary to serve as a city commissioner. I will not use my position as a commissioner as a stepping stone to any other office or any job.

3. I will do my best to contact those professional organizations whose business is to search and apply for any possible grants to improve city facilities and residents’ lifestyles. I will be the residents’ “watchdog” to keep expenses down and not incur any unnecessary costs in providing required city services. Encourage more residents to participate in city government by making it more convenient to attend regular city meetings and making myself available to them at any meetings held at their local meeting facilities. Encourage residents to run for commission seats to avoid having commissioners appointed to the commission without any residents casting a vote for them.

4. I am independent and fully focused on the needs of our residents and local business owners. I am not a member of any clique or “club” and will not engage in petty politics for any reason. I do not and will not support salary increases for commissioners, or reimbursement of travel costs within Pinellas County. Only residents should recommend and approve any such changes. After my election as Mayor in 2013, I was responsible for filing the successful claim for compensation as a result of the BP Oil Spill, which had not been filed. In addition, I was pleased to establish a relationship with the new management of Palms of Pasadena Hospital in supporting and encouraging their investment in our city and the expansion of their facilities, which is an important contribution to our city and our residents

Gigi Esposito

1. My husband George and I moved to South Pasadena in June 2015, shortly after we were married. I had lived in Largo for over 40 years. I retired from Pinellas County Government, after a 30 year career, in 2003. Between 1978 and 2006 I served on many advisory boards in the City of Largo: Recreation & Parks, Library, Planning and Finance. In 2006 I ran for Largo City Commission and served in that capacity until November 2012.  While on the city commission I represented the city on PSTA, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Suncoast League of Cities. In 2012, after leaving the commission, I again served on the city’s Finance Advisory Board.

2. I am interested in bringing my experience to South Pasadena, to work towards making this city a destination for not only residents, but visitors. I’d like to work to encourage new business to our vacant properties and continue to support the businesses established in South Pasadena. The commission needs to be diligent in its efforts to maintain our low millage rate, while providing adequate services to our residents.

3. I will work to ensure that our residents have adequate police and fire protection, that our staff has technology that makes their performance more efficient for not only their jobs, but for our residents, and that we maintain a business-friendly atmosphere for not only the existing businesses but those wanting to come to South Pasadena.

4. Since qualifying for office, I have attended commission meetings on a regular basis to learn how the commission conducts business. I have met with each of the department heads, toured their departments and talked to them about their functions, challenges and needs. This information will prove valuable when our budget is prepared. I look forward to working for the residents of South Pasadena – working to make this city a great place to live, work and play. Please feel free to contact me at 727-204-0349 or by email: votegigi2017@aol.com.

David Magenheimer

1. I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in the city of South Pasadena, and I have lived here for over 40 years.  My wife Patti and I have three teenage children. I have a degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida and over 20 years of professional experience in the insurance industry. My specific expertise is the field of auditing, so I know how and when to ask the tough questions needed to identify and solve problems. I am certain that these skills will benefit our city government.

2. I love this city and will live here for the rest of my life. It is the least that I can do to give back to this community and help ensure that it remains the great place to live that it has always been. I also want to contribute fresh ideas to a city commission that works together in the best interest of our citizens.

3. Ensure that the city commission does everything within its control to support business development along Pasadena Avenue. With a consistently healthy flow of traffic and close proximity to St. Pete Beach, South Pasadena should be an attractive location for so many businesses. Progress in this area should help to reduce some of the eyesores of vacant, run-down buildings. I look forward to the opportunity to brainstorm with the commission about this topic. Keep our city safe and never stop looking for beautification opportunities. Keep property taxes as low as possible through intelligent use of tax revenue and efficient city government.

4. I agree with the philosophy that “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” and it is my current opinion that our city has been operating effectively overall. That being said, South Pasadena residents can be assured that I will not be satisfied with the status quo when I spot a problem or an opportunity. I am also fully committed to listening to what others have to say. I believe that the best decisions are made through evaluation of all of the facts and different perspectives.

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