MADEIRA BEACH – Mayor Travis Palladeno and District 2 Commissioner Nancy Hodges will face challengers as they seek re-election during the March 11 Madeira Beach municipal election.
Victor Cucaro, a specialist in natural medicine, is seeking the mayor’s seat, while William J. (Billy) Wright, senior vice commander of the local VFW post, is taking on Hodges.
District 1 Commissioner Terry Lister has no opposition this time and will return for another two year term.
In Madeira Beach, voters throughout the city vote for each commissioner even though the commission members represent specific districts.
In the mayoral contest, Mayor Travis Palladeno points to a long list of projects and initiatives started or completed during the three years he has served as mayor.
The projects he cites include infrastructure improvements such as the repair and replacement of seawalls, stormwater rehabilitation and road resurfacing, beach groin improvements, storm water outlet cleaning, and upgrades to Archibald Park.
A $10 million city municipal complex has been funded and is getting underway.
The projects are being done while keeping the millage rate at 1.79, one of the lowest in Pinellas County, Palladeno pointed out.
“We have produced a balanced budget and put away one-third of our funds for emergencies as required by the city charter,” he said. “It is obvious that our great city is moving in the right direction, and we are getting it done right,” he said. If re-elected, Palladeno said he would work to “keep Madeira Beach on this current course for success.”
Victor Cucaro, who is seeking to replace Palladeno as mayor, said he believes the city is investing its money in the wrong places.
Putting $1.6 million into the marina while the city’s emergency funds are depleted from $13 million to $700,000 by 2015 “is a losing proposition,” Cucaro said. Also, neglect of repairs to the stormwater system has resulted in a fix costing nearly $14 million to protect the city from flooding.
With other pressing needs, Cucaro wants to know why the city is spending money “on an exorbitant project like the new City Hall complex.”
Cucaro said Palladeno promised accountability when running for election in 2010 and yet the city’s money is being spent on costly projects and increased salary and office expenses for city staff members.
If elected, Cucaro promises “real honest change and not empty promises.”
District 2 commission seat
Commissioner Nancy Hodges said she is running for re-election because she feels the city is moving in the right direction, with a number of new projects and improvements either underway or ready to begin. Hodges said she worked on some of the projects while serving as a member of the city’s planning board before becoming a commissioner.
“I am so excited to now be a part of the commission that is getting these projects done,” she said. “We are making so many improvements that will attract people to Madeira Beach.”
Hodges said the coming city municipal complex, improvements to Archibald Park and other activities such as regular events on Madeira Way are making the city more attractive.
“We have done a great deal here and accomplished a lot. I am proud of that, and want to continue to be a part of the team that is making it happen,” she said.
W.J. (Billy) Wright is also seeking the District 2 commission seat. Wright is senior vice commander of VFW Post 4256 (Madeira Beach). He believes his military background with the Marine Corps provides skills he can use to be an effective commissioner.
“I’m a firm believer that in order to get something done, or move forward with advancing a particular thing, need or issue, the first priority should be total involvement,” Wright said. “I want to be the catalyst that ignites the fire of passion in and for the very city that we choose to live, work, and recreate in every way possible.”
Wright said the commission can do a better job of communicating with the public, letting them know just exactly what they intend to do, how they’re going to do it.
Achieving a consensus on issues is vitally important, Wright said. If elected, he said “my focus will be to explore both sides, get as much data as is readily available and then present it to the citizens to see what they have to say, then move on from there with due diligence.”