Lawyer Bruce Rector, as soon as denied a seat on Metropolis Council, has been elected Clearwater Mayor.

Rector beat opponent Kathleen Beckman with almost 63% of the vote, in line with unofficial outcomes.

Rector will change interim Mayor Brian Aungst Sr., who was appointed late final yr after the abrupt resignation of former Mayor Frank Hibbard.

“I simply labored actually arduous to attach with the residents of Clearwater and I simply suppose it displays the higher connection I had with them,” Rector informed the Tampa Bay Times. “I used to be simply in a position to hearken to individuals and perceive what they’re involved about they usually responded to my message lots higher.”

Beckman conceded the race about an hour after polls closed, with an announcement thanking supporters.

“I can not thank sufficient the many individuals that supported me throughout my candidacy and whereas serving as a council member,” Beckman wrote in an announcement following her election night time defeat. “I’m humbled by their religion in me and their generosity. It has been a real privilege to serve the residents of Clearwater the final 4 years.”

Along with her assertion, Beckman supplied an inventory of accomplishments for which she is proud, together with decrease taxes and vitality prices, new sustainability efforts, a brand new strategic plan, and extra. 

Hibbard and Aungst — each Republicans — endorsed Rector, along with about a dozen other conservative backers. Beckman, who has served on Metropolis Council since 2020, had assist from Democrats, in the meantime.

However that’s not what has made this race attention-grabbing.

Beckman suffered a flurry of criticism heading into the ultimate weeks of campaigning. Hibbard, who resigned over frustration regarding spending on a brand new Metropolis Corridor facility, filed an ethics complaint towards Beckman in early February alleging that she used metropolis sources for political acquire.

At concern in his grievance are a collection of emails between Beckman and varied metropolis employees by which she raised questions on Rector sharing info “with North Seaside residents about $60 million in funds from ‘planning’ … being allotted to handle infrastructure wants.”

At first, Beckman solicited details about the expenditure in query, noting in emails that she needed to make sure residents have been precisely knowledgeable about metropolis enterprise that affected their properties. However Beckman composed a letter with assist from metropolis employees that was despatched on metropolis letterhead to an inventory of residents, virtually all of whom have been ladies and whose contact info have been obtained via a database utilized by the Democratic Get together for voter communication.

Beckman defended her actions, noting that she “rapidly pulled collectively an inventory of individuals on streets within the affected areas” from contact info she had on file. She mentioned she was not focusing on anybody particularly aside from those that lived within the space affected by info she had gathered.

However, the controversy didn’t cease there. Later, Metropolis Council member Lina Teixeira mentioned she would not support Beckman for Clearwater Mayor.

Whereas Teixeira didn’t point out the ethics grievance in her clarification, she mentioned she had issues with Beckman’s potential to unify the town, pointing to a “sample of disparaging the opposite individuals” she works with or needs to work with.

Beckman argued Rector was the one void moral requirements, calling the assaults towards her “disturbing campaign tactics,” although it appears voters sided with Rector. Nonetheless, Beckman particularly referenced a letter Hibbard despatched to Clearwater residents explaining his rationale for supporting Rector. Within the letter, Hibbard wrote that Beckman “as soon as informed our former Metropolis Supervisor Invoice Horne that I used to be evil as a result of I used to be a Republican.”

Horne has since handed away and can’t validate the declare. Beckman mentioned the reference to the late Metropolis Supervisor is disrespectful to Horne, who she described as her “mentor throughout my early council days.”

“Mr. Rector’s disgraceful marketing campaign ways reveal a whole lack of ethics and suitability for the mayoral function,” she wrote in an announcement on the time. “The poor judgment displayed by each Mr. Hibbard and Mr. Rector is unacceptable, and is extraordinarily regarding to me and plenty of Clearwater residents.”

Beckman’s assertion referenced Hibbard’s letter, noting that it was then she “knew I needed to name Mr. Rector to handle his false assertion and ask him why he would marketing campaign on blatant lies.”

“He didn’t settle for accountability for the statements and thought it was a part of politics,” Beckman mentioned.

“My competitor’s failure to even focus on these issues with me earlier than exploiting them for political acquire will not be solely inexcusable, but in addition disrespectful to the reminiscence of Mr. Horne,” she continued. “It’s evident that my opponent will stoop to any stage to safe an election victory.”

The uncharacteristically heated marketing campaign additionally obtained costly. Rector, as of March 14, had raised nearly $133,000, whereas Beckman raised nearly $148,000.

Rector misplaced a Metropolis Council bid in 2020, ending final in a five-way race that Scientology critic and Beckman supporter Mark Bunker in the end received.

However he ran on recent momentum this yr, garnering highly effective backing from U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna; Pinellas Property Appraiser Mike Twitty; Pinellas Clerk of the Courtroom Ken Burke; Pinellas Tax Collector Charles Thomas; State Legal professional Bruce Bartlett; Public Defender Sara Mollo; state Sens. Nick DiCeglie and Ed Hooper; state Reps. Kim Berfield and Berny Jacques; Clearwater Metropolis Council member David Allbritton; and Pinellas County Commissioners Chris Latvala and Brian Scott.

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