LARGO – Chiropractor and current Commissioner Woody Brown will be the next mayor of Largo. His new job will start in November.
“I’m happy to be given the opportunity. I think it will increase my workload, but I look forward to the challenge,” Brown said.
Brown, 44, said he was pleased that the economy – and with it property values – was improving the outlook for the city.
“I think the next two years in Largo are looking pretty positive,” he said. “We don’t have to make millions of dollars in cuts this year, and I hope that continues.”
Former Largo Police Chief John Carroll, 55, will take Brown’s place in Seat 6. He will be one of at least two new members on the Largo Commission this year.
Brown and Carroll remained unopposed in their respective races when the qualifying period ended Aug. 15. Six other candidates qualified to run for three other seats up for election this year.
A total of eight candidates spoke well for the level of interest in Largo politics, Brown said.
“I’d like to think that those that might have run for mayor are confident in the job that I’ll do,” he said.
Brown will be filling the last two years of a four-year term left vacant by outgoing Mayor Pat Gerard, who is running for county commission. Gerard resigned her position effective Nov. 11, a week after Election Day.
Carroll said he would use his experience as police chief to focus on leadership as opposed to management.
“I believe that management is about things and leadership is about people. So public service to the citizens of Largo to me is going to be about problem solving and getting things done and having some vision (and a) long range plan and try to inspire or help inspire city staff and the community to get behind those things,” he said.
Brown raised a little more than $5,000 in campaign funds, the fundraising goal he set himself for the pre-qualifying period. He said he is pleased that he is able to donate those funds to local charitable organizations.
Carroll said he only loaned himself enough campaign funds to pay petition verification fees.
The other seats
The race for Largo’s Seat 1 will pit incumbent Michael Smith, running for his second term, against Bronson “O” Oudshoff, who was the last candidate to declare his intentions to run for office. Smith, 33, is a librarian in the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library in Pinellas Park and lifetime Pinellas County resident.
Oudshoff is a clinical research coordinator for a group of local urologists. He is a native Floridian who has lived in Largo for 15 years. He attended the University of South Florida as well as St. Petersburg College.
According to a press release from the candidate, Oudshoff “will work for lower taxes and prioritized spending, ensuring adequate funding for police, fire and local control of economic development.”
Oudshoff is married to Misty, and they have four children. He is very active in his church, Abundant Life Ministries, and a precinct leader for the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee.
The race for Seat 2, left open by Commissioner Robert Murray who’s retiring, will feature political newcomers Samantha Fenger and Daniel Ruffner. Fenger, 35, has worked in government and nonprofit sector before attending the Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute and hitting the campaign trail. Ruffner, 47, is the vice president of a BB&T branch in Largo and a graduate of Largo High School.
In Seat 5, longtime incumbent Harriet Crozier will square off against Donna Holck, who was the last to be confirmed by the city clerk’s office as a candidate.
Crozier, 70, is a retired office manager who has served as a Largo elected official for a total of 20 years.
Holck, 51, owns a tax consulting company and said she believes in term limits.
The city election will coincide with the countywide election on Tuesday, Nov. 4, with early voting beginning Monday, Oct. 20.