Frank Hibbard for Clearwater mayor - 2020-02-07
At the dawn of a new decade, Clearwater faces both familiar and new challenges. Dealing with the Church of Scientology, whose followers own more downtown property than ever. Moving forward with the ambitious Imagine Clearwater project along the downtown waterfront. Hiring a new city manager. The mayor is one of five City Council members, so the role requires selling a vision and building consensus. Among four candidates to succeed term-limited Mayor George Cretekos, Frank Hibbard has the best combination of experience and skills to be successful.
Hibbard, 52, served as mayor from 2005 to 2012 and is well-versed in the strengths and weaknesses of city government. The financial adviser has strong ties to the business community and the broader region, and he can both aggressively promote his priorities and build support for them inside and outside city hall. He chairs the board of directors at Ruth Eckerd Hall, and his recent experience with a national search for a new CEO there will be useful as the city conducts a search for a successor for City Manager Bill Horne, who is retiring after two decades.
Among the candidates for mayor, Hibbard is the strongest supporter of the Imagine Clearwater project that could transform the waterfront and is critical to downtown's future. He wants it to make financial sense and supports key elements such as a proposed covered concert pavilion that could be a regional draw. Hibbard also advocates selling the old city hall site to help pay for the project and redeveloping the Harborview Center site into a low-rise restaurant complex.