On Tuesday, Mar. 14, St. Pete Beach residents will choose who will lead their community as they head to the polls to elect a new mayor.
- Residents choosing between three candidates
- Funding to repair aging infrastructure major concern for voters
- Mayor of St. Pete Beach serves a three-year term
Three candidates want the job -- Interim Mayor Deborah Schechner, businessman and co-owner of Bay Waters Inn John Michael Fleig and retired engineer Alan Johnson.
All three candidates have pledged to find a funding to overhaul the city’s sewer system and aging infrastructure. There’s a bill in the state legislature that could help do just that.
“We have a plan in our city,” Schechner said. “I’m trying to get the money to put our plan into action.”
However, Schechner has been criticized because she previously said she would not run for the Mayor's job. She said she wants to remain Mayor to help make sure the bill is passed.
“St. Pete Beach is in my heart, and I want it to go in the right direction,” Schechner said.
One of her opponents said the legislation can move forward without her. Alan Johnson said if he’s elected mayor, he can bring even more funding to the table.
“I think there’s grant money available,” Johnson said. “I think we need to do a better job at finding it.”
John Michael Fleig wants to be mayor of St. Pete Beach too, but his past could haunt his chances. Twenty years ago, Fleig served time after accepting a plea deal for being an accessory after the fact to a murder in Maryland.
He said he feared for his life and eventually helped authorities solve the case.
“If you can’t overcome your past, if you can’t overcome and fix your mistakes, then you are never ever going to go in the future,” Fleig said.
As mayor, Fleig said he would focus on getting rid of the cronyism that he said exists in St. Pete Beach government. He also would focus on an overhaul of the city codes.
“I want to be Mayor and blow out the cobwebs in St. Pete Beach’s town hall," said Fleig.
The future Mayor of St. Pete Beach will serve three years and earn a salary of $8,100 a year.