SEMINOLE — For Tom Christy, the ninth time was the charm.
Christy, 69, who was making his ninth bid for a seat on the Seminole City Council, finally broke through Nov. 3 when he captured one of the two at-large seats up for grabs. Incumbent councilor member Roger Edelman was the top vote-getter, capturing 5,923 of the votes cast, or 37.45%.
Christy earned 5,628 votes (35.59%) and the other incumbent, Jim Quinn, finished third with 4,264 votes.
Edelman and Quinn were nearly reelected by default in August, but Christy added his name to the ballot on the final day of the candidate qualifying period.
Christy moved to Seminole from Tonawanda, New York, in 2005, where he served twice on the City Council. He worked for children’s book publisher Carton-Craft Corp. in Buffalo, New York, for 30 years. He is also a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, a member/usher at St. Jerome Catholic Church, and served on the city of Seminole’s Charter Revision Committee in 2009-10.
In 2016, Christy almost took Quinn’s seat on the council, losing by just 28 votes.
This time around, Christy said he was optimistic because he has performed better with larger voter turnouts.
He also said he started to get a following over the years and his support got stronger.
“When I was out putting up signs and around, people sound their horns, they stop and say hi,” Christy said Nov. 5. “Their support is overwhelming. It’s very humbling. It really is. And that is the essence of Seminole right there. We are this growing community … but we still have this small-town feel.”
Now that he’s made it to the council, he said public safety will be his top priority. And in order to improve it, he said he plans to push for the city to establish its own police department instead of contracting with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
“People have a right to expect a certain service and when it comes to police services, they’re not getting it,” he said. “It’s not even close. And this has gone on way too long.”
He cited the service Seminole Fire Rescue provides and says the city should have a police department that offers the same.
Christy will be joining council members that he has had conflict with in the past.
In 2012, he charged Mayor Leslie Waters with a violation of the state elections and ethics laws regarding fundraising and called for her resignation.
Waters at the time said the claims were untrue and “sensationalism.”
In 2017, he was on the other side of an ethics complaint when Edelman alleged campaign sign violations.
Christy said Nov. 5 he has no concern about working with the rest of the council and that he can get along with anyone.
“I intend to make alliances on that and try to get some of these things done,” he said.
Among those who’ll he be working with is Edelman, 78, who was first elected to the council in 2014. The Ohio native has lived in Seminole since 1985 and was a sales manager for a Fortune 500 printing and publishing company. In 1998, he formed his own small company that he grew into a $2.5 million business and sold in 2003. He was also president of the Greater Seminole Chamber of Commerce.
Edelman, who serves on the board of directors of several nonprofits, told Tampa Bay Newspapers in August that this will likely be the last time he runs for office.
This will most likely be Quinn’s final term.
Quinn, 81, who has been on the council since 2010, did not seek reelection when his term was up last year. However, he was appointed to fill the seat left vacant following the March 18 death of Councilor Bob Matthews.
On Nov. 4 during what was likely his final council meeting, Quinn was effusive in his praise of the council and city administration.
“I cannot believe the congeniality and cohesiveness of this workforce,” he said.
Quinn, who is known for his humor, added that he will stay close and continue to be active in the community.
“I really can’t go anywhere because the sheriff has an ankle bracelet on me,” he joked.
Council members are elected to three-year terms and are paid $5,562 annually.