Commissioners Jennifer Lindsay and Raymond Piscitelli were unopposed for reelection in Belleair Shore.
BELLEAIR SHORE – Though no elections were held in Belleair Shore this year, big changes in town government were announced at the March 18 commission meeting. Longtime Mayor John Robertson and Town Clerk Bonnie Dhonau both said they are resigning.
Dhonau’s leaving had been expected. She was recently promoted to director of administration in Indian Shores. That is an appointed position, as is the part time town clerk job in Belleair Shore. Holding both positions would be dual office-holding, which is prohibited under Florida state law, Dhonau said.
Robertson’s announcement was a surprise. He had previously talked of not seeking another term in office, but said a health issue with his leg was forcing him to leave sooner. He will formally resign at a special commission meeting to be held March 24. Robertson said he was announcing his resignation early “to squelch rumors going around.”
Robertson has been mayor for 16 years. He said he is stepping down now “because my leg is just not going to hold out.”
The special commission meeting on March 24 was scheduled for the purpose of swearing in Commissioner Robert E. Schmidt Jr. He was unable to attend the March 18 meeting when the other two re-elected commissioners, Raymond Piscitelli and Jennifer Lindsay, were sworn in.
Schmidt, who has served as deputy mayor for years, is expected to be elected mayor by a vote of the commission following acceptance of Robertson’s resignation on March 24. He would serve for the remainder of Robertson’s term, which expires in March 2015.
Commissioner Deborah Roseman said both Robertson and Dhonau “have big shoes that will be hard to fill.”
Dhonau’s replacement as town clerk will be Mary Karayianes, who retired last summer as Indian Shores director of finance and personnel. She had previously held the same position in Indian Rocks Beach.
Karayianes’ appointment will be short term. Dhonau said Karayianes likes to travel and agreed to take the position “to get us through a transition period.” She said Karayianes has a big trip planned for next September and would likely stay until then.
Karayianes “comes with very high commendation from our auditing firm,” Dhonau said, adding she expects the town clerk transition to be “very seamless.”
Dhonau also said she has someone in mind to serve as permanent town clerk when the time comes.
“When Mary is ready to transition to someone else, hopefully we’ll have the new person ready to go,” Dhonau said.
The Belleair Shore charter requires the commission to appoint from its members a deputy mayor at the first regular commission meeting each March. The commission voted 4-0 to name Schmidt to the position again.