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John Morroni to chair Forward Pinellas board next year

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Forward Pinellas, the transportation and land use planning agency for Pinellas County, has new board leadership and several new members going into 2017.

Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni will serve as the board’s chair; Clearwater Commissioner Doreen Caudell, vice chair; Indian Rocks Beach Commissioner Cookie Kennedy, treasurer; and Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, secretary. All votes were unanimous.

Forward Pinellas is the organization formed by the merger of the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Pinellas Planning Council. Forward Pinellas is charged with addressing countywide land use and transportation concerns. Forward Pinellas not only provides a forum for countywide decision-making on transportation and land use issues, but also assists local governments with technical support, regional coordination and policy advice and guidance.

A professional Realtor, Morroni has personal experience on the land use side of the Forward Pinellas mission and served on the Pinellas Planning Council from 2005 until it merged with the MPO in 2014 when he joined the Forward Pinellas Board. However, his interest in the transportation side of planning goes back much further than that. He is a former member of the MPO’s Citizen Advisory Committee.

Morroni is a three-time chairman of the Pinellas County Commission during his 16-year tenure. Before serving on the commission, he served for four terms in the Florida House of Representatives. During part of this year, Morroni was absent from commission meetings in a successful battle against cancer.

“I am looking forward to chairing the Forward Pinellas Board next year,” Morroni said. “The new chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners and I both have transportation solutions as our number one priority, and we will continue to work with our partners in the Tampa Bay region toward that end. The safety of our residents when it comes to both driving and cycling is of utmost importance to me.”

Forward Pinellas is governed by a 13-member board of elected officials. These officials represent municipal governments, the County Commission and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

Safety Harbor Commissioner Cliff Merz (serving Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and Tarpon Springs), Belleair Commissioner Tom Shelly (representing South Pasadena, Belleair, Belleair Bluffs, Seminole, Gulfport, and Kenneth City), and Dunedin Mayor Julie Bujalski (representing the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) all finished their terms at the end of 2016. They will be replaced in January by Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis, South Pasadena Commissioner Lari Johnson, and Clearwater Vice Mayor Bill Jonson, respectively representing the same areas and agency.

By appointment of new County Commission Chair Janet Long, Pinellas Commissioner Ken Welch will replace Karen Seel on the Forward Pinellas board as one of three county commissioners.

“We’ve had a great deal of cohesion and leadership among the board members and executive committee over the last 18 months,” said Whit Blanton, Forward Pinellas executive director. “I welcome the new members to our board and look forward to working closely with our new chairman on what will be a critical year for countywide and regional transportation decisions.”

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