Standing, from left, former Seminole Mayor Dottie Reeder and Mayor Leslie Waters; seated, former Mayor Jimmy Johnson.
SEMINOLE – Mayor Leslie Waters hosted former mayors Dottie Reeder and Jimmy Johnson at a roundtable discussion over lunch at Zom Hee Chinese Restaurant April 19 to reflect on the growth of Seminole, review current city challenges and to discuss visions for the future.
Reeder served on City Council for 17 years, 11 of those years as mayor. Due to the city’s growth, major fiscal challenges faced by the council, and to meet the need for better local government efficiency, she led the initiative to change the form of city government in 1995 from Strong Mayor-Council to Council-City Manager form of government, which is how the city’s government is still structured today. With the hiring of Frank Edmunds as the first city manager 18 years ago, Seminole for the first time had full-time, professional expertise to steer the major financial and development issues of the day.
Other city milestones that Reeder oversaw were the transition of the Seminole Fire Department from a private organization to a city-paid department and the city’s partnership with St. Petersburg College that created the current joint-use library. Mayor Reeder left office at the top of her civic profession, as President of the Florida League of Cities.
Johnson served 12 years on the City Council and six of those years as mayor. During his time as mayor, he worked to keep taxes down, and was instrumental in the Kash & Karry on Park Boulevard being torn down. Several years ago, Johnson and the city received accolades for the construction of two new solar-powered buildings – the Public Works and EOC buildings on 70th Avenue.
One of the most difficult times of his administration was the emotional closure of the Bay Pines mobile home park.
Both Reeder and Johnson continue to be involved in city events and issues.
In the mid-1990s, the city of Seminole experienced serious financial problems, but with the change of the form of government, those problems were remedied. Over the years, City Hall has faced challenges due to growth, increased population, and, more recently, problems due to loss of revenue due to the recession.
However, as the current mayor, council and city management start planning for 2014, the city continues to have a balanced budget, is in the black, and the quality of city services is being maintained. There are exciting redevelopment and development projects under way, and plans to enhance efforts “for a better Seminole.”
Waters has put on the top of her list of “things to get accomplished,” the start of construction on the Community Building at City Park, future home of the Seminole Historical Society, as well as a new “great room” for rental use. Also planned is the development of a state-of-the-art Waterfront Park on Park Boulevard and rejuvenating Seminole Mall.