Oldsmar’s 2016 City Council race now down to two candidates

Oldsmar City Council member Dan Saracki will serve a three year term after challenger Daniel Belcher dropped out of the race on Tuesday.

Incumbent Oldsmar City Council member Dan Saracki will serve a three-year term after Seat 2 challenger Daniel Belcher dropped out of the race on Tuesday.

And then there were two.

The race between four candidates vying for two open Oldsmar City Council seats in March became a race between two candidates vying for one seat on Tuesday, after word came down late yesterday afternoon that Seat 2 challenger Daniel Belcher had decided to drop out of the race, effective immediately.

Belcher’s decision, which was officially confirmed by the city clerk’s office, sent shockwaves through the crowd that had gathered for the candidate forum on Tuesday evening, and it means incumbent Dan Saracki is automatically re-elected to Seat 2, where he will serve on the council for three more years.

“When I received the call yesterday afternoon from my opponent explaining that he was stepping down from the race, I was stunned,” Saracki said Wednesday via email. “I had been preparing for the open forum to take place later that evening, and this was a completely unexpected turn of events.”

“I am blessed and grateful for the overwhelming outpour of support from the community,” the statement continued. “I could not have been successful without all the people who put my signs on their front yards, the endorsement of the Fire Fighters Union, and support of local businesses. I am happy that I can now focus solely on the People’s Centennial festivities. I will truly be celebrating at the Fifth Friday event this Friday!”

Oldsmar Connect reached out to Belcher, a businessman with two young sons who played up his commitment to youth sports programs during this, his second, city council campaign.

Daniel Belcher poses with his family in this Facebook photo. Credit: Daniel Belcher/Facebook.

Daniel Belcher poses with his family in this Facebook photo. Credit: Dan Belcher/Facebook.

The 42-year-old president of Premier Health Group of Clearwater explained that important work projects came up after he committed to run, which took priority over his campaign.

“I’m a financial planner, I own a small business in the area, and some new and important projects came up after I decided to run that I have to focus on,” Belcher told Oldsmar Connect by phone.

“I also have two small kids, boys 12 and 8 years old, so when it came down to it, I had to put family first.”

Belcher said he plans to stay involved in community causes, such as the Canal Park project, and he hopes to run for office again.

“The City Council position requires, and warrants, more time than I am able to give right now,” he said. “I do hope to run again in the future, but the timing was not right this time.”

The 2016 Oldsmar Municipal Election is now a two candidate race.

The 2016 Oldsmar Municipal Election is now a two candidate race after word came down on Tuesday that Daniel Belcher had dropped out.

Following the news of Belcher’s decision, the candidate forum proceeded with the two candidates vying for Linda Norris’ soon-to-be-vacated Seat 4: Becky Afonso and Jerry Beverland.

Stay with Oldsmar Connect for complete coverage of the 2016 municipal election, including a recap of the candidate forum later today.

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