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Candidates qualify for Port Richey mayoral race

PORT RICHEY - Two familiar faces in Port Richey politics will vie to become the next mayor during the special election Aug. 14. Eloise Taylor, mayor from 2000 to 2005, and Perry Bean, a city council member from 2008 to 2010, qualified as mayoral candidates before the Tuesday deadline. They seek to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Mayor Richard Rober in the wake of an IRS tax investigation. The mayor's seat at council meetings has been empty since Rober's resignation became effective on March 31. He had 18 months left on his term. In May, Rober and wife Averill entered guilty pleas to one count each of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
Taylor and Bean lost re-election bids, but are trying for political comebacks. Bean described himself as a philanthropist in the statement announcing his candidacy. Before his term on city council, Bean was on the city's Port Authority Committee and engineering special selection subcommittee. Even after his defeat at the polls in 2010, Bean said, he remained active in the community. He collected multiple awards during his tenure as president of the Port Richey Rotary and Charitable Foundation board member. He recently was appointed as the Rotary Assistant Governor for the six West Pasco clubs. Bean is on the board of the Good Samaritan Clinic of Pasco, which provides health care to the area's medically indigent. Bean recently refurbished eight donated, used laptops and delivered them to Cozumel, Mexico, for use by 30 children living in the island's orphanage. A technology consultant, Bean has been married for 20 years and has three children. "Cooperation with other local governments, the private sector, and nonprofit and civic organizations are the keys to effectively addressing problems such as crime, homelessness, property devaluation, and other effects of a flagging economy that don't recognize city limits," Bean said. Taylor cites her three decades of experience as an attorney and her education, which includes a master's degree in political science. Her legal practice focuses on elder and family law, real property probate and trusts. She was mayor when Port Richey opened its City Hall at 6333 Ridge Road in March 2002. The former City Hall was razed to make room for the construction of the Walmart Supercenter at U.S. 19 and Ridge Road. "The city in the last five years has made remarkable progress in getting its finances together," and ended bickering among its leaders, Taylor said. Since leaving office, Taylor said, "I've been committed to do whatever I could to make it a better city." Taylor would turn attention to the city's water lines, which have experienced breaks and other infrastructure problems. Stormwater issues and flooding are still problems. Port Richey has spent "an enormous amount of money" during the past decade trying to secure permits to dredge canals to improve their navigability, Taylor said. She would like to "think outside the box" to find ways to fund a dredging project. "It's always been a question of money," she said. Taylor appreciates what she regards as a cooperative spirit among current council members. The hiring of Tom O'Neill as city manager has boosted the city's fortunes, Taylor said. O'Neill, the former city manager of New Port Richey, is doing a "proactive, efficient job" as the city's top administrator. "I think we can do some good things for the city to enhance it as a place to live," she said.

corth@suncoastnews.com (727) 815-1068
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