Oldsmar’s 2019 campaign season already in high gear

Oldsmar’s 2019 municipal election is more than five months away, and the qualifying period doesn’t officially begin for another few weeks.

But with four City Council spots, including Mayor, up for grabs on March 12, several candidates have already declared their intention to run, kicking off the winter long campaign season before the official start of fall.

According to the City Clerk’s office, the following candidates have submitted DSDE-9 forms, which trigger campaign treasures reporting requirements, as of Friday, Sept. 28:

  • Mayor – Eric Seidel
  • Council Seat 1  – Matt Clarke; Andrew Knapp
  • Council Seat 2  – Dan Saracki (incumbent)
  • Council Seat 4  – Katie Gannon

The qualifying period starts on Tuesday, October 16 and runs through through Friday, November 16. Candidates cannot pick up their petition cards until Tuesday, Oct. 2, according to the clerk’s office.

Oldsmar Vice-Mayor Eric Seidel recently announced he will run for mayor in March 2019. (City of Oldsmar)

As we reported last month, Vice-Mayor Eric Seidel announced he was stepping down from his council seat to run for mayor. The three-time council member was automatically reappointed to Seat 1 in March.

Seidel told Oldsmar Connect he intends to use his extensive business experience to continue moving the city in a positive direction.

“My past business experience is that of a CEO of a public company for a decade, and I intend to use those skills to continue building our city,” he said via email shortly after his announcement.

“I want to build on our city’s successes and continue with the priorities our council has been pursuing for the last few years.”

The race to see who will fill out the remaining two years of Seidel’s term currently features two relatively unknown candidates, Matt Clarke and Andrew Knapp.

A screenshot of Andrew Knapp from the Oldsmar City Council Seat 1 candidate’s Facebook page.

In a Sept. 12 Facebook post titled “Time to roll up the sleeves” Knapp stated, “I was born and raised in Oldsmar, and feel that now is the time to give back to the city that has helped cultivate who I am today.”

The post continued, “As new vacancies approach the City Council in the upcoming election in March of 2019, I feel that I am rightly positioned to lend my talents to help improve the city. I am an engineer by occupation and a problem solver by nature….I have been doing my homework as to how our city currently works, and I’m ready to put in the effort to make it work that much better.”

Clarke is known for his charitable work in the community, including helping a Gul Aire Village couple repair an out-of-code deck and taking his chainsaw to hundreds of downed limbs around his adopted ‘O-Town” in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Matt Clarke recently declared his intention to run for Oldsmar City Council Seat 1 in the March 2019 municipal election. (Credit: Matt Clarke/Facebook)

“I believe Oldsmar is looking for a fresh face with a proven track record in the community,” Clarke said via Facebook messenger.

“It’s time to get fresh minds with common sense solutions and the drive to get things done and possibly start thinking outside the box on some issues.

Clarke, a native Australian who recently received his American citizenship, added, “People are excited to see a fresh face, someone who has the energy and passion to work hard and do what is right for Oldsmar. We have such a great city and we need to advance now so our children can have something to be proud of later.

“America has been so gracious to me, I want to give something just as amazing back”

Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis presented Dan Saracki (r) with a certificate from the Florida League of Cities on Feb. 20, 2018.

Seat 2 incumbent Dan Saracki told Oldsmar Connect this week he plans to run again in 2019.

“I am honored and excited to announce that I will be running for another three-year term for Oldsmar City Council Seat 2,” Saracki said via email.

Saracki, who was automatically reelected in 2016 and was twice recognized by the Florida League of Cities this year, added, “the past three years has been filled with many great learning experiences and exciting accomplishments.

“I look forward to working with City staff and Council to build a downtown area of which Oldsmar can be proud and support all projects that maintain a safe and vibrant community in which to live, work and play.”

The race for Seat 4 features political newcomer Katie Gannon challenging the incumbent, and longtime local lawmaker, Jerry Beverland.

Gannon announced her candidacy on Facebook Sept. 14 in a post that featured a link to her candidate website declaring the Seat 4 contender “a new voice for Oldsmar.”

A screenshot of Katie Gannon and her family from the Oldsmar City Council Seat 4 candidate’s website, Katie4Oldsmar.com.

“I’m a wife, a mother, and a lawyer. I’m a member of the Florida Bar, the Oldsmar Leisure Services Advisory Board, the Oldsmar Historical Society, the Oldsmar Woman’s Club, and Friends of the Oldsmar Library,” Gannon’s bio page reads.

​With stated priorities including infrastructure, transportation, the Community Redevelopment Area and the Town Center, Gannon said of her campaign, “If we aren’t already friends, I hope to meet you during the next few months to find out what’s important to you and how you feel about the city’s progress.”

Gannon’s opponent is no stranger to local politics.

Beverland, author of four books on Oldsmar’s history and a fixture on the City Council dating back to the 1970s, also took to social media to announce his decision to run for another three-year term.

“I AM RUNNING AGAIN FOR SEAT 4 ON THE OLDSMAR CITY COUNCIL,” a Sept. 9 Facebook post loudly declared.

City Council member Jerry Beverland.

“IF I AM ELECTED AGAIN BY THE INCREDIBLE RESIDENCE OF OUR GREAT CITY I WILL HAVE SERVED FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS. I CAN ONLY DO THAT IF Y’ALL Will HAVE ME ONE MORE TIME. I WOULD APPRECIATE ALL SUPPORT!!! NEED 150 CARDS SIGNED SO I CAN QUALIFY.”

When contacted about his unofficial announcement, Beverland confirmed he planned to run again but was waiting to pick up his candidate cards next Tuesday.

“I decided quite a while ago,” Beverland said by phone, adding, “I thought about not running again, but then I thought it would be my last time, so why not?”

Beverland, who has overcome several tragedies in his life, was elected to Seat 4 in 2016 following a brief hiatus from office.

He said he has met his opponent, Gannon, a couple of times and said she “seems like a nice lady” who “has every right to run.”

“I’ve got 52 years experience in this city,” he said. “I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know what’s going on and I know the history of this town.”

When asked if he was ready to campaign for another three-year term, Beverland had a typical Jerry Beverland response.

“Are they ready?! the 83-year-old shot back.

“They might not be ready for me!”

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One Response
  1. Barbara L Drawbaugh 2 weeks ago

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