OLDSMAR — With the roast of former Oldsmar mayor Doug Bevis kicking off at 7:30 a.m. on April 10, jokes about the early start could be considered low-hanging fruit.
Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, an admitted novice when it comes to these things, didn’t hesitate to go there.
Eggers took the stage in the Nielsen dining room at around 7:45 stating he is “not a roaster” and thanked Bevis for having everyone there so early.
“Being here at 7:30 a.m. on a Wednesday to talk about Doug didn’t excite me too much. I mean it’s not like I have anything better to do,” Eggers said. “I mean I am a morning person, but thanks again for having us out here at the crack of dawn.”
The rest of the morning featured much of the same, as Bevis, sitting in an oversized, cartoon-style chair, took playful jabs from friends and colleagues three weeks after leaving office. As the city charter requires, he termed out in March after serving two consecutive three-year terms as mayor and 10 total years on council.
“I called to check on my friend after serving ten years and said what are you doing?” current Oldsmar mayor and event emcee, Eric Seidel, said. “He said, ‘absolutely nothing,’ I said you’ve done that for the last six years.”
Oldsmar Councilman Dan Saracki noted: “Doug is a very fashionable guy. He owns more pink shoes than my wife. And he’s got the sticky, messy hair — it looks like he combs it with an egg beater.”
Saracki also told Bevis he was “the reason I’m here today. You inspired me to run and I am just blessed to say you have been a mentor to me. I’m looking forward to your next adventure.”
“We’re here to celebrate Bevis, the man,” City Manager Al Braithwaite said. “He’s done it all. Just ask him. Any subject, he’ll tell you he’s done it for 25 years.”
Braithwaite went on to praise Bevis: “He always knows where the line is, and he never lets people believe he can do anything without the other council members. He’s represented the city with dignity, intelligence and personality … and he’s been one of the most effective mayors we’ve ever had. He’s handled the good, the bad and the ugly, and he deserves to take a bow.”
The good-natured ribbing mixed with heartfelt thoughts continued when former Councilman Jerry Beverland took the microphone.
“Doug is outgoing, but he’s really bashful down deep,” Beverland said. “He has to be prodded to be in the limelight. We’re both backward in real life. We put on a show for people.”
“I never met a man that could be so ridiculous, no matter what he does,” Beverland ribbed. “But we love him. We really do. I haven’t always agreed with your stupidity, but I love your dedication and you love this city. I want to thank you for being a friend to me, to the council and this city. We love you.”
Before turning the mic over to the roastee, Seidel told Bevis, “Our friendship has been extremely close, and I am proud of you as your friend and even more proud of you as a citizen.”
With that the former mayor, who despite being a radio deejay, started by saying, “I got nothing.”
Bevis then admitted Beverland was right, that he is “somewhat shy. But I did this because I love this city.”
After saying being roasted felt akin to learning who would show up at your funeral, Bevis touched on his notorious failed attempt to lure the Tampa Bay Rays to Oldsmar. “I knew the Rays probably weren’t coming here, but people thought the attention was great for the city. It put Oldsmar on the map.”
In closing, he said he “never thought this goofy kid, Bevis from Bevis, Ohio, would be mayor of a city. I tell kids when I go to the Great American Teach-in to dream big and never give up on your dreams.
“I’m honored you all came here, and I’m humbled I did this because I love this city. It’s truly been an honor.”
Afterwards, Bevis spoke about what it was like to be roasted.
“Very humbling,” he said. “I am a shy guy so talking about myself, it’s always about everyone else so it’s somewhat embarrassing. It was fun, though. Something I’ve never done before, so there’s that!”
Asked about his future plans, the commercial realty agent said he is looking into making a run for a county commission seat.
“Obviously I sell real estate, so I’ll focus on that, and I’m still vetting the idea of running for county commission,” he said. “It’s a heavy lift, a countywide run, so I’m meeting with people like Dave (Eggers) and (Commissioner) Janet Long to see what’s going to happen moving forward. So, we’ll see.”
When asked about his friend’s potential county commission run, Eggers said Bevis has already proven what kind of leader he is.
“He’s done so much for the city and made such an impact at the county, on the many boards he’s been on including the PSTA and Forward Pinellas,” the former mayor of Dunedin said. “He brings a sensibility. He’s not one-way, he’s open minded. He listens and engages. He’s a good friend and a good man and I look forward to the next chapter.”