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The 2022 Oldsmar municipal election will feature four candidates vying for two open seats, including mayor, as well as 11 charter review questions.

OLDSMAR — As we come to the end of another year, that means another municipal election is near.

In Oldsmar, as the community is the midst of a tense discussion on density and growth tied to the long-proposed downtown development project, the 2022 municipal election on March 12 represents an opportunity for voters to cast their ballots for the candidates they believe will best lead them into the future, with two open seats, including mayor, as well as 11 charter review questions, on the ballot.

With the qualifying period having ended in late November, incumbent Mayor Eric Seidel is set to square off against current council member Dan Saracki in the run for mayor, a race that could prove to be a contentious one as each candidate sits on opposite sides of the controversial proposed density increase for the downtown development.

Also, former mayor and council member Doug Bevis will face Jarrod Buchman, a member of the city’s Planning Board and Charter Review Committee who formally announced his intention to run for Seat 2 during the Dec. 7 council meeting.

During that meeting it was announced that incumbent Katie Gannon was unopposed after the qualifying period ended and will be automatically reappointed to Seat 4. According to City Clerk Ann Nixon, there are also 11 charter review questions on the ballot stemming from the work of the Charter Review Committee, with topics ranging from charging stations to conflict-of-interest statutes.

While the open council seat and charter questions should be important to voters, it’s typically the mayoral race that garners the most attention in local elections, and that promises to be the case in Oldsmar this year, as the two candidates have long enjoyed a good working relationship on council but now find themselves on opposite sides of a very polarizing issue.

Seidel made developing the downtown a priority in his initial run for mayor in 2018, and he has since stated his reason for running for reelection is to get the long-gestating project off the ground.

“I want to run for reelection because I want to finish what we’ve started — building Oldsmar’s downtown,” Seidel said via email, adding he’d also like to finish rebuilding the BMX track, expand the city’s investment in infrastructure, see the proposed community theater through to completion and “ensure the community gets 100 percent back to normal, post COVID-19. I do not believe there is anyone else who currently has the tested leadership for what might lie ahead.”

Saracki, meanwhile, has come down squarely against increasing the density in the district from 30 units per acre to a proposed 65, a stance that has served to draw a line in the sand yet should make it easier for voters to decide which candidate they want to support.

“I became a City Council member in 2015 to make a difference,” Saracki said via email. “As mayor, I will listen to citizens’ needs, work to enrich their lives, build better organizations and support community involvement. I advocate thoughtful growth that honors Oldsmar’s hometown feel, attracts vibrant businesses and protects the residents’ quality of life and safety. My tireless efforts and servant leadership roles … have prepared me for this next challenge to develop new opportunities for Oldsmar.”

The deadline to register to vote in the 2022 municipal election is Feb. 14, while the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is March 5.

For more information, visit the Pinellas County Supervisor of elections website.