TARPON SPRINGS — City residents have until Tuesday to decide who will best serve as their new voice on the board of commissioners.
Chris Hrabovsky, Joe Muzio and Rea Sieber plan to be visible in the community through Monday as they wrap up campaigns to replace term-limited Commissioner Susan Slattery.
All three candidates are familiar faces around town in one fashion or another and spoke with The Suncoast News about their individual campaigns Monday afternoon.
Hrabovsky, a Tarpon Springs resident since 1999, is a self-employed relaxation therapist and participates regularly at city commission meetings and other public forums.
“I believe I have proven my passion for helping the residents of Tarpon Springs with my attendance of meetings over the past eight years,” Hrabovsky said. “I have really well-thought-out plans for how to fix certain things that have been in the works for years.”
Muzio, residing in Tarpon Springs for more than 27 years, is a U.S. Army veteran, works in the real estate industry and ran unsuccessfully for a city commission seat in 2010.
“I know the city from being here for almost 28 years and I think I have things I can add to the city” Muzio said. “I may not get everything that I’d like to see, but I think that my ideas and my visions will definitely be heard. And I think once they do hear them, the residents will agree with my direction.”
Sieber, a city resident for eight years, is a former Tarpon Springs High School guidance counselor who is now a business owner and president of the Tarpon Springs Merchants Association.
“I’m a hard worker, so I believe in working hard and being enthusiastic and I want to bring that same drive to the commission,” Sieber said. “And as a business owner I know the needs of that community.”
During Monday phone conversations, the candidates cited a variety of top issues they plan to address if elected.
A common concern of residents mentioned by all three candidates is the state of the city’s infrastructure. Numerous underground pipe failures in the past year have resulted in service disruptions throughout the city. A major sewer main rupture in August resulted in the extended partial closure of the intersection at Safford Avenue and Live Oak Street.
“That’s one of the things people are concerned about is the crumbling sewer pipes and water pipes,” Hrabovsky said. “I’ve been hearing a lot about that.”
A topic that will always spark debate among residents and business owners is the future of the Sponge Docks.
City commissioners approved a 90-percent construction plan of the Sponge Docks Improvement Project late last year.
Muzio said the important thing is to make sure the Greek heritage of the docks is not adversely affected while working toward increasing traffic and tourism.
Hrabovsky said that while he liked certain aspects of the approved plan, it’s critical to continue the dialog between business owners and planners.
Sieber is a supporter of the improvement project moving forward and believes it will help revitalize its image to both tourists and local residents.
As for Tuesday’s referendum on the sale of city-owned property at 501 S. Walton Ave., the candidates are primarily in favor of approval and getting it back on the tax rolls.
Hrabovsky, though, said he is still undecided on how he will vote come Tuesday. His concerns include assurances the would-be owners maintain the property rather than demolish the building on the site.
Moving further west in Tarpon Springs, Muzio stated a desire improve the look and functionality of Sunset Beach if elected. “I’ve heard that a lot of residents would like to see a launching pad for their boats put in, some new sand, some dredging, some new landscaping, and some better roads in the area.”
A long-term goal Hrabovsky said he would like the city to begin studying immediately is its franchise agreement with Duke Energy, which expires at the end of the decade. “If we start the process now instead of waiting until the last minute, then we can actually investigate how to make our own municipal utility company or at least explore our options of buying our electricity from TECO [Tampa Electric] or someone else.”