Meet the Candidates: South Pasadena

Residents of South Pasadena will also vote in a local election Tuesday, March 15. Candidates Dan Calabria, the incumbent, and current City Commissioner Max Elson will battle for the title of mayor. The city of South Pasadena has a commission form of government. Five commission members are elected from the city at large, one of whom is elected as mayor, each for three-year terms.

Via email, the Gabber asked each candidate the same questions. Their responses have been edited for style.

What is your background? 

Dan Calabria

Dan Calabria

Dan Calabria :Graduate of St. John’s University, Brooklyn, NY, BBA, Accounting, 1957.

Plus 40-year career in the mutual fund management industry, the last 30 years in executive management positions.

Moved to Florida in 1986 when I was recruited by Templeton Funds Management Corp. as president and CEO.

Independent director of several mutual funds after Templeton was acquired by the Franklin Funds in 1992.

Also Executive VP of Oppenheimer Funds and a member of the New York Stock Exchange, 1965-1977.

Industry Arbitrator for the New York Stock Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for seven years.

Member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Tampa Bay from 1996 to 2007.

City of South Pasadena: Member, Charter Review Committees, 2001 and 2007 and Member of Mayor’s Advisory Committees for Mayor Kathleen Peters and Mayor Dick Holmes. Founder and president of South Pasadena Voters Watch, (2000).


Max Elson

Max Elson

Max Elson (Elson did not specifically respond to this question via email. The answer printed here was provided in part to “How long have you lived in the city?”): Currently, I am serving my second three-year term as a South Pasadena City Commissioner.

I am involved with Florida League of Cities, Suncoast League of Cities, National Association of Specialty Food Trade, Rotary International, Abilities Foundation, Pasadena Church Chancel Choir, and Pasadena Cove community activities.

I am extremely proud to have received endorsements for mayor from all of South Pasadena’s sitting commissioners; the St. Petersburg Association of Firefighters, Local 747; numerous elected officials including State Representative and former South Pasadena Mayor Kathleen Peters, State Senator Jack Latvala, Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno, and the Pinellas Realtor’s Organization.


How long have you lived in the city?

DC: Twenty-four-year resident homeowner in South Pasadena, since 1992.

ME: My wife, Barbara and I have lived in South Pasadena since 2001.


In 20 words or less, tell voters why you chose to run.

DC: The ill-conceived plan to reduce Pasadena Avenue from six lanes to four lanes in 2012, which my opponent supported. I decided to become more involved to prevent any similar fiascoes in the future.

ME: To preserve our fire station, restore civility and leadership to city hall and

seek new revenue to mitigate tax increases.


What do you think are the biggest issues you will be tackling if elected?

DC: Controlling expenses to avoid any additional tax increases. Focus on the real needs of our residents, more than 50% of which are over 70 years of age, of which I am one. Create a more welcoming, friendly approach to new businesses, e.g., I initially contacted Wal-Mart in 2010 and over the next couple of years, which resulted in their opening their 24-hour store at the Pasadena Shopping Center in 2013.

ME: Preserve our Fire Station: Our current mayor has explored closing our

outstanding fire station, which has the fastest emergency response time in the entire county. This service is extremely vital to our residents. I will ensure we keep our fire station and our highly skilled firefighters in South Pasadena to protect and serve our residents from the possibility of longer response times and deterioration of emergency care.

Relieve the city of the current mayor’s onerous legal costs: Current mayor Dan Calabria has sued our city and cost our taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Even though the courts have dismissed this suit twice and denied Calabria’s request for the city of South Pasadena to pay his legal fees, he continues to file amended motions and run up additional legal fees, which come directly out of the pockets of our residents. This must stop and I will ensure that it does.

Business Revitalization: I will seek and promote continued business development and work closely with business and property owners to improve the Pasadena Avenue corridor. During my tenure as commissioner, I directed the restructuring of our Community Improvement Department which streamlined the permit process, business licensing and plans review. This enables new and existing businesses in our community to save time, money and resources.

New Revenue Sources: Mr. Calabria, in his three years in office, has offered no initiatives or ideas to increase revenue for the city except through the raising of our Ad Valorem (Property) taxes. This impacts every property owner in our city. I will seek new revenue through grants, public and private programs, inter-local agreements and other resources to maintain a balanced budget and adequate reserves, while keeping property taxes among the lowest in Pinellas County.

Flood Insurance Increases: I will continue working closely with federal, state and county officials to relieve the flood insurance burden on our property owners and improve our CRS rating, which entitles property owners with significant flood insurance premium discounts.


Describe South Pasadena in three words.

DC: “Best Kept Secret”(in Pinellas County)

ME: Compact, convenient, affordable


What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of S. Pasadena?

DC: Best – By far, the residents who are among my best friends and neighbors.
Least – petty politics that ignore the residents and their real needs.

ME: Favorite – My city is a close-knit community with a variety of services and conveniences that rival cities many times our size. We have convenient shopping; free and ample parking; beautifully maintained parks, roads, infrastructure and services; walkability; safety; no major crime; excellent emergency services; great restaurants and a stunning location.

Lease favorite – Located between St. Petersburg and the Gulf Beaches, the six-lane roadway through our city becomes a conduit to get “someplace else” and not stop to enjoy what our city offers.

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