Candidates for upcoming elections in St. Pete Beach recently made their intentions known on the issues they consider most important regarding city government.
The Gabber reached out to each candidate at the email address provided on his or her qualifying documents at the city clerk’s office. All four candidates for the three open seats on the City Commission responded to the questionnaire.
Alan Johnson is the incumbent mayor seeking re-election. He is a 25-year resident of St. Pete Beach and a retired former engineer. He cited a love for the city and a desire to work in public service as the reasons for running for office.
Johnson has spent the past six years as the city’s mayor and has actively served on city committees for 12 years. He has never held elected office anywhere else.
“I am intent on completing the effort to upgrade our aging infrastructure, managing redevelopment activity and maintaining the character of our city,” he stated. “The balancing act between our ‘gulf coast beach town’ atmosphere and resort destination is guided by the limits of our Comprehensive Plan. Having been involved in its development more than 15 years ago, I believe it is time to re-examine that plan.”
Adrian Petrila, Johnson’s opponent in the mayoral race, is a five-year city resident and has been a broker by profession for more than 20 years. He has never held elected office.
“I love our town,” he said regarding what prompted him to run. “I want to protect the quality of life of our residents, I want to protect our beaches, and I want to protect St. Pete Beach from becoming the next Clearwater Beach, Daytona, or Miami.”
Petrila said that St. Pete Beach deserves to have a strong mayor who protects the interests of our residents and our local businesses above all else.
“We deserve a mayor with the strength of character to stand up for our residents,” he wrote in his response.
Citing increasing traffic congestion and calling Gulf Boulevard “a nightmare,” he said that pedestrian safety is an issue, while beach access is constrained and over regulated in favor of visitors.
“We need new and innovative ideas on how to revitalize our town, how to redevelop without negatively impacting the quality of life for residents, and without increasing traffic or congestion,” he said. “St. Pete Beach residents have a right to convenient access to our beaches with designated ‘residents only’ beach parking spaces. Any new development must guarantee that it will include adequate beach access for residents.”
Petrila suggested that the city should investigate why many large hotels and resorts have received massive property tax reductions in recent years amid increases for residents, alleging that special interests have received special treatment for too long.
Two seats on the City Commission are up for re-election, but each has a single candidate who is unopposed.
Mark Grill, the incumbent in District 2, has lived in St. Pete Beach more than five years and is a retiree after a 33-year career with IBM. He has been in office since January of 2021.
Feeling that it is important to participate and help continue to make his community “a great place to live,” he has been involved in volunteering and supporting St. Pete Beach since he moved here in 2017. He has been a member of the City’s Planning Board, a field employee during the most recent U.S. Census, an assistant clerk and poll worker in past elections, and president of his neighborhood homeowners’ association.
“When the opportunity to apply for the commissioner position opened up, I felt that I could use my experiences and skills to contribute to the city’s success,” he stated.
Grill is looking to continue supporting the city as best he can along with initiatives he thinks will move the city forward. He wants to ensure that decisions are balanced to support all of the constituents he represents, including residents, businesses and visitors.
“I will continue to probe and question when I feel items are not properly balanced or in the city’s best interest even if that position is unpopular with some,” he said. “The (re)development and infrastructure projects coming up over the next few years will set the tone for the future of St Pete Beach – it’s imperative to get the balance right.”
In District 4, incumbent commissioner Melinda Pletcher did not qualify to run for another term, and Chris Marone is unopposed. He has spent eight years on the Historical Preservation Board, including the past five years as its chairman.