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Candidates Discuss Redevelopment, Schools, Budget

An estimated 150 people attended the Temple Terrace Bar Association's Candidate Forum Tuesday evening.


Editor’s Note:
Video of the entire Temple Terrace Candidate Forum has been posted on Temple Terrace Patch, however it has been broken into several clips. Find the links to each clip in chronological order at the end of this story.

Mary Rose Owens had picked out her favorite mayoral and City Council candidates weeks ago.

But after learning more about the contenders at the T Tuesday evening, she was reconsidering.

“I thought I knew who I was going to vote for when I got here, and now I’m not so sure,” she said.

An estimated 150 people came to the to listen to the candidates’ thoughts on the downtown redevelopment project, area schools and the city’s budget. Candidates had a few minutes to introduce themselves, and then they answered questions submitted by audience members on pieces of paper. Most questions centered on the .

“Every piece of paper has a question on it about the redevelopment,” said Jack Townsend, past president of the Temple Terrace Bar Association who served as one of the moderators.

Mayoral candidates Frank Chillura and Cheri Donohue agreed that communication is the key to get the redevelopment project moving again. City officials have to let citizens know what’s happening so they’ll be informed. Donohue also suggested forming an alliance of residents and business owners who could tell Vlass Temple Terrace, the developer of the project, what business they’d like to see in the area and help locate them.

Every candidate agreed that having retail on the ground floor of the proposed residential units in the downtown redevelopment area is essential.

“You want retail on the first floor because it energizes Main Street,” said City Council candidate Grant Rimbey.

City Council candidate Eddie Vance said the retail space must be marketed properly.

“Retail on the first floor is a must,” Chillura said. “It’s a vision of the people.”

City Councilwoman and candidate Mary Jane Neale said the city needs to retire its more than $20 million debt.

“Right now, we need to trust our council to do the right thing, and we need to trust our developer to do the right thing also,” she said.

Donohue agreed.

“We do have to trust that these people are building this to make money,” she said. “If they make money, we make money.”

Schools were also a topic of conversation. Candidates agreed that area schools need to be improved and cited . They also agreed that the city has been making strides by working with the Hillsborough County School District and should continue.

Neale said her children went to public school and she volunteers every month at Temple Terrace Elementary.

Rimbey said he didn’t feel comfortable sending his kids to Riverhills Elementary so instead enrolled them in Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran School. Now that CORLS is closed, one son will attend Terrace Community Middle School and the other will go to Corpus Christi.

Vance said his children have gone to Temple Terrace Elementary Macfarlane Park Elementary, Terrace Community Middle School and King High School. He pointed out that he serves on the city’s School Support Committee.

Chillura said his children go to Lewis Elementary, and this coming year, his son will be going to Corpus Christi.

Donohue said her children went to Lomax Elementary, Greco Middle and King High Schools. Her daughter is now a teacher at Lewis Elementary. Donohue said parents should be involved in their children’s educations and help them do well in school.

Candidates agreed that the city should “think outside the box” to close the gap on the budget deficit. They pointed out that Temple Terrace’s sewer rates are controlled by the City of Tampa, suggesting a missed opportunity locally. They also suggested annexing more property to increase the city’s tax base.

“Additionally, it all does boil back down to the redevelopment,” Vance said, “and if we can get that going and get businesses in there, that will increase our tax revenue and that is really what we need.”

See also:
Meet Mayoral Candidate Frank Chillura
Meet Mayoral Candidate Cheri Donohue
Meet City Council Candidate Mary Jane Neale
Meet City Council Candidate Grant Rimbey
Meet City Council Candidate Eddie Vance
How Will You Get the Redevelopment Project Off Dead Center?
How Important is Retail Under Residential in the Redevelopment Area?
How Would You Close the Gap on the Budget Deficit?
How Will You Improve Schools?
What Do You Know About the Phases of the Redevelopment Project?
What Will You Look for in a City Manager?
Should Temple Terrace Increase its Influence in the Tampa Bay Area?

JS July 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Awesome article and great videos. Thanks Patch!
Grant Rimbey July 12, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Thanks for posting all the video Ashley!
Cindy Stuart for School Board July 12, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Very informative event, and with all the talk about schools i think that the residents deserve to hear from the candidates for School Board that will represent Temple Terrace at the District level. On August 14th, Temple Terrace residents will have at least two votes for School Board Candidates, District 5 or District 3, depending on where you live and District 7 (county wide). I encourage residents and voters to check out Cindy Stuart, Candidate for District 3. www.VoteCindyStuart.com
Jennifer Moriarty July 12, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Thanks for the videos. I watched. A couple of tough choices.
Kathryn July 12, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I really liked listening to all of the canidates. In thinking about the redevelopment, I would love to just drive 3 minutes to great shopping. Another, item to think about is the horrible K-Mart! I think a Target there would be so AWESOME! I think that would help more shoppers come over to the redeveloped area and just help in the over all thinking about staying in TT to shop. I read an article in which a man bought a whole K-mart for $200,000 and then gave away all the merchandise. Not saying we have to do this but it is an idea.
Temple Terrace resident July 12, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Swapping a Target for the K-Mart is a great idea. A Lowe’s could go where Terrace Sports is located, or where the deadful "High 5" is, or perhaps taking the place of one of our sub-par apartment complexes – Brentwood Apartments.
Quentin July 12, 2012 at 09:19 PM
i was middle of the road for mayor but I see that Chillura has more of that business attitude. Donahue is a nice person but I think with the downtown problems a mayor who understands the business side is going to reap us benefits in the coming Vlass problems. Not 100% yet but almost all the way the difference between straight up business sense and community involvement means I am leaning towards the guy with the business sense.
Jennifer Moriarty July 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Kmart has improved and it's better than nothing. Do we really want a big box store? Lowes would be bad for our Ace Hardware. I'd really like a breakfast/lunch place on the river with a nice dock and deck.
Temple Terrace resident July 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Good point, but if we were to have a big box, the areas north and south of Busch, and west of 56th is where they would be.
DM July 13, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Not a fan of Chillura I think he and the rest of the Good O' Boy network in Temple Terrace have gotten us into this mess.
Quentin July 13, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I remember back to the beginning when this downtown fiasco started and during council he stated more than once the city should not be buying the land. Thats one thing I clearly remember and he was right. He was not involved in the 22 million dollar giveaway, so I leam towards him to bulldog our way out of this mess.
JS July 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
It appears Chillura has actually answers, Donahue, at least on tape, kept saying when the developer makes money, we make money. She constantly said we have to "Think out of the box." The developer has us IN a box. Vlass is going to make money either way but we may lose big time if the project is not held to the highest standards, as well as lose our city. A mayor who can lead needs to think out of the box and come up with better answers than that. I agree with Quentin, Chill is the person we need.
Concerned Resident July 13, 2012 at 04:18 PM
What?? Mr. Chillura owned one of the parcels the City purchased and was paid from that loan....how was he "stating the City should not be buying the land"? He made a bundle off the sale...and he never opposed the sale, he held out and haggled and sold his property for a very significant gain.
Quentin July 13, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Thats wrong actually, He said he did NOT want to sell and did not want the city buying the property as a whole. I was there. He eventually sold because it was holding up things. but he was opposed to selling his property, he had said that time and again. Donahue while a good person just doesnt measure up in the business world, I want someone who is gonna bust this project out and get what is good for Temple Terrace. In addition after November I want to see about removing the statue and bring that to the new council. Let's store it away for the future real far away, like a metal recycler.
Quentin July 13, 2012 at 04:31 PM
The problem is the developer makes money and we have gotten the bill. More proof that you need an in depth understanding of what is going on, not just belonging to 27 different clubs. I suspect Vlass will be a lot more understanding if we got the right Mayor in. He has shown being nice or cordial does not work.
Quentin July 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I don't know what he got . and if he benefits from having property all the more reason to get him in there. I don't know what he thinks of the statue but I would like to think he is in the majority and has a clear idea how insulting it is for us to have a statue of the guy who got us into this mess (along with a lot of help)
Concerned Resident July 13, 2012 at 06:29 PM
After watching the videos, and reading each candidates website, I believe trhat Frank Chillura is the only choice for Mayor, I believe that he would be a better servant of the people, he has been active with RiverWatch, the MPO and MCEB all on his time, haveing a Mayor with first hand knowledge of how we got to where we are is crucial and in my opinion required, while Mrs. Donahue seems nice we don't have time for someone to play catch-up. .Mr Chillura is my choice for Mayor.
Richard Diaz July 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Bertha Palmer deserves a statue more than this former (xxxxxxx) mayor
Richard Diaz July 14, 2012 at 12:50 AM
wahrheit I did"nt reside in TT in 2006 so thanks for this interesting info that everyone should read in case they forgot or did"t know.
Rollo Tomasi July 14, 2012 at 01:49 AM
I don't give that a lot of credence. 2006? allegations made by a lawyer? a lawyer? If there had been ANYTHING done wrong they would have hung him out to dry. This is the same thing the socialists are doing to Romney complaining about his business practices. Liberal/socialists are all the same, condemnation for a successful business. well too bad thats exactly why I think he is gonna clean out the garbage on this Vlass deal.
Truth teller July 14, 2012 at 05:40 PM
As Steve harvey says and now here's the rest of the story, those same lawyers later apologized to Mr. Chillura as their accusations were baseless. As for any money he got from selling property; look around, he has reinvested it back into Temple Terrace. Mr. Chillura has proven time and time again that he wants nothing more than what is best for our city and has put his own money into our city to prove it. No one is better qualified to be mayor!
hammond72 July 15, 2012 at 03:53 PM
http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2004/06/07/story8.html?page=all http://www.sptimes.com/2004/10/22/Northoftampa/Temple_Terrace__City_.shtml According to these articles, he rejected two offers, the lower of which was $300k above fair market value. Then he accepted an offer of $1.25M plus $125,000 to cover his attorneys fees.
Truth teller July 15, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Read the minutes of February 8, 2008 and the minutes of May and June 2004 (call City Hall and ask to speak to the city clerk to get them), you will see mr. Chillura did not want to sell his prpoerty, the city at that time was adamant they wanted it, Mr. Chillura even offered to trade for a like property in Temple Terrace (after being pressured by council) ultimately it was sold and what happened next? Drive down 56th Street towards Fowler you will see any monies he recieved was re-invested back into Temple Terrace, in the end the winners were the citizens as Mr. Chillura gave the city (voluntarily) a glimpse of what our redevelopment could look like. Look at where he stands on the issues, look at how he has served Temple Terrace, look at how long he has served, do this and the choice is clear, no one is more qualified to be mayor!
Concerned Resident July 15, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Maybe the Truth Teller can convince Mr Chillura to turn over all his business records from the date of that sale to present to the public? He did not re-invest $1.2 Million dollars in our City, he was offered many, many fair amounts and held out for the highest profit, and there's nothing wrong with that, I will still vote for him though what he did was for the best interest of his business, he remains the best candidate though he was not some selfless person, his investments are not limited to our City he owns property all over Hillsborough County and beyond, after the sale he made many out of the City investments, my only problem with him would be if we had a split vote on the Council and he had to abstain on an issue that he has a financial interest in then what?
Rollo Tomasi July 15, 2012 at 11:09 PM
"Concerned resident" how about take a big drink of shut up. You have an ax to grind. That stuff is old news and nothing you have said makes sense. You go into business to make money. You must be some kind of pinko who hates success. All that stuff was hashed over and nothing came from it. Go hug a tree or campaign against the american flag or something but you are just a pain in the butt here and not doing anything of merit.
Concerned Resident July 15, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Uh my husband and I are voting for him, I just hate hearing how he took all the money and reinvested in the community. I agree he is a great businessman, and really silence any dissent, c'mon I have no axe to grind, "pinko", wow and we in TT are tree huggers and proud, the is a Flag in our front yard, what merit are you doing? He did noting wrong, though lets be real....
Truth teller July 15, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Ok everyone lets play nice, we all agree Mr. Chillura is the best qualified to get us out of the redevelopment mess and lead our city to the best future. Mr. Chillura has invested considerable sums in Temple Terrace isn't that enough? I don't know what else he or hasn't invested in but the old sying don't put all your eggs in one basket comes to mind, since he has served as a city volunteer and an MPO volunteer he has filed financial disclosures going back 12 years look them up if you like but why? We need to focus on fixing the future not responding to the half truths in inuendo of the past. And to respond to Concerned Citizen highly unlikely scenerio, if a situation such as you described were to ever come up (as highly improbable as it might be) the vote would simply be moved to the next meeting were a full council would be present, hope this gets us all refocused on the issues we are all concerned citizens and should all be rowing in the same direction.
Quentin July 16, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Chillura is the only one who has the ability to take control. Miss Donohoe while a good citizen of TT is not equipped to take the hard stance and ramrod a deal that benefits the city and not just one company. I guarantee the developer will not EVER consider a statue for Chillura once he gets ahold of the situation. Concerned citizen you are fishing for something. Just because he owns property outside the city means nothing. That's his business! thats what he does!! complaining that he is doing it is beyond (i quote the mayor) Stupid!
Marcy Leber July 18, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Ah, you must not know Mrs. Donohue very well. Hard stance, tough negotiator, yep. That's how she's gotten things done all these year.

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