Kennedy to return as mayor of Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Joanne “Cookie” Kennedy, shown, Vice Mayor Joe McCall and incoming commissioner Jude Bond were all automatically appointed when no candidates qualified to run against them by the end of the qualifying period.

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — There will be no need for Indian Rocks Beach voters to head to the polls on March 15.

The reason behind the cancellation stemmed from the fact that incumbent Mayor Joanne “Cookie” Kennedy, Vice Mayor Joe McCall and incoming commissioner Jude Bond were all automatically appointed when no candidates qualified to run against them by the end of the qualifying period. As a result, Kennedy will begin serving her third consecutive two-year mayoral term in the spring, where she will be joined on the City Hall dais by McCall, Bond and incumbents Phil Hanna and Denise Houseberg.

The news she would be automatically reappointed was met with relief by Kennedy, a local business owner and mother who was first elected to the commission in 1999 and served several terms over the years before she became the first female mayor in IRB history following her win in 2018.

“I am grateful to continue to serve the IRB community we all love,” Kennedy said via text. “We will continue our work on underground utilities, safety measures, and environmental concerns and issues in 2022-23.”

Indeed, Kennedy has made the main issues affecting IRB today, namely short-term rentals, red tide and flood insurance, a priority over the years, and in the fall, she said she would continue to fight for those causes as long as she was in office. “This is the end of my second term, and I love it,” she said during an interview in September. “It’s definitely the greatest thing I can do. I believe it’s my calling.”

While McCall will continue to serve in the position he was first appointed to in 2020, Bond, a local business owner and political newcomer, will take over for the departing Ed Hoofnagle, a three-term commissioner who said he has enjoyed his position leading the city for the past six years but was ready to let someone else step in, at least for now.

“After six years serving as commissioner, I decided to take a break,” Hoofnagle said via email last week. “I’m honored to have served the city and will be open to future commitments if the opportunity should arise. I’m proud of the achievements of our commission over the past three terms, and I’m confident that Jude Bond will continue to preserve and enhance our small town despite the challenges to home rule from Tallahassee.”

Photo by JEFF ROSENFIELD

There will be no election in Indian Rocks Beach in March 2022, as the three candidates, including Mayor Joanne “Cookie” Kennedy, were automatically reappointed when no one qualified to run against them by the end of the qualifying period, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.