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Clearwater Vice Mayor Jay Polglaze touts past accomplishments, plans for re-election

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Clearwater Vice Mayor Jay Polglaze definitely has plenty left in the tank.

“My passion is greater today than it was four years ago,” Polglaze told a crowd of supporters on hand for a fundraiser at Clearwater Beach’s Sheraton Sand Key Resort early last month.

The 58-year-old Republican and 40-plus-year resident of the Clearwater-Largo area is running again for Clearwater City Council’s Seat 3, a post he’s held since 2012, after having run unopposed.

“I think we’ve made some great strides and great progress these last four years,” said Polglaze to supporters. “[But] we’re not quite done yet. We’ve got some more things to take care of.”

One of the issues Polglaze believes he could help expedite is that of the downtown Clearwater revitalization effort.

Speaking to FloridaPolitics.com, Polglaze addressed a need for both Milennials and Generation Xers – more specifically, according to Polglaze, those age 25 to 45 – to not only want to hang out in downtown Clearwater, but also live there, and be part of the community.

“It’s the demographic which I believe all future cities rely on.”

To lure such a sought-after demographic as the 25- to 45-year-old one, Polglaze says there needs to be more of a focus on residential development, as opposed to retail development.

“People want to live in urban apartments. They want to be able to leave their car parked and walk to whatever they need.”

Polglaze points to the recently reopened Nolan apartment complex in downtown Clearwater, which had been dormant for many years after the recession, as progress in the area – progress that Polglaze’s City Council helped spur by supporting the measure.

Downtown revitalization isn’t all Polglaze is excited about though. He took time during his discussion to highlight such future Clearwater developments his administration had a hand in creating as the Countryside Mall expansion, and the U.S. 19 infrastructure improvement project. He also talked at-length about recruiting the Urban Land Institute to help with redesigning some of the most-used city-owned properties.

“We now have a major redesign of Coachman Park going on, as well as a major redesign for the North Marina Basin going on,”  Polglaze said.

It’s not just about what’s already penciled into City Council’s schedule that he’s ready for though – he’s ready to get to work on what’s next, and, for him, that seems to be helping to improve Clearwater’s quality of life.

“Now that the economy has turned around and we are actually fully engaged in increasing the tax base and diversifying the economy – bringing jobs to Clearwater – I would like to be able to give more back to the residents,” said Polglaze, acknowledging that Clearwater’s parks and recreation department was an area that saw the most drastic funding cuts.

“We cut back library hours, swimming pool hours […] the Christmas parade.”

He also wouldn’t mind designating some money to resolving what he calls a waterway accessibility issue for residents, nor would he mind seeing some city paper go towards funding a few more amenities for area boaters.

And all that and more is definitely possible for Clearwater. Especially when considering that the city still has its $6.4 million in BP settlement money, which received in July.

The topic of how to spend it won’t even be addressed until after the election, though. Councilmembers thought officials’ opinions about where the money should go would be seen by the public as campaign promises.

As far as competition goes, Polglaze’s only concern is St. Pete College communications professor and registered nonpartisan candidate, Bob Cundiff.

Cundiff, a self-described conservative who commonly votes Republican, is bringing big ideas with him on the campaign trail, especially the one that involves a monorail system that stretches from downtown Clearwater to Clearwater Beach.

For now though, Polglaze has a substantial lead in two categories that often lead to election wins.

According to the most recent candidate finance reports, Polglaze has raised exactly $3,200 for his re-election campaign, while Cundiff has raised just $200.

Also, Polglaze has more support from area politicians. His campaign is being run by Sen. Jack Latvala and Latvala’s son, state Rep. Chris Latvala. His host committee includes – among many others – Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Tax Collector Diane Nelson, and Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long, Charlie Justice and John Morroni.

Election Day for Clearwater City Council is March 15, 2016.

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Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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