Zephyrhills Mayor Gene Whitfield announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection in April when his term is up.
Whitfield, who has served as the city’s figurehead through three terms, made his decision after satisfying his desire to work on projects and programs that will benefit the community, strengthen relations between city government and the citizens and providing better services. It has been a tenure where he never sought fanfare, but rather searched for results to improve the community.
“I have decided this is my time to step aside as your Mayor,” Whitfield said in a prepared statement. “I have been blessed and honored to serve our little city as mayor for eight and half years and will finish my third term in April. This has been a truly awesome experience and I thank you all.
“Zephyrhills has a great future on the horizon and as we move forward, there will be the need for new ideas and new leaders, all the while keeping our hearts well-centered on preserving our great little city.”
Whitfield is a third generation east Pasco County resident. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Ernestine, for 52 years and has two children and three grand children. They own Whitfield Funeral Home for over 30 years. Their son, Tim, is an inshore charter boat Master Captain and daughter Amy works at the funeral home.
Whitfield was chairman of the Florida Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees for four years and served on the Florida Hospital Board of Directors for four years. He served on the Board of Directors of East Pasco Habitat for Humanity for six years and was Chairman for a year. He also Gene served 26 years a member of Zephyrhills Kiwanis Club. He was Deacon at his church for 16 years and Sunday School teacher for eight years. He has been a member of the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce over 30 years, six years as a director.
He has watched the city grow during his tenure as mayor and believes his fellow elected officials are managing the growth while allowing the city to maintain its hometown feel.
“Zephyrhills is truly a great little city and we should all feel blessed to call this our home,” he said in his statement. “Yes, we are growing rapidly with residential, commercial, and industrial expansion. However, we are not alone. Florida is growing and expanding at record numbers. The spread of growth is all around us and upon us. Our city council and staff work every day to manage our growth as best they can with the goal in mind to preserve our hometown heritage.
“It is not an easy task to grow and provide all the things our citizens want, yet keep our city a hometown community. It takes all of us to help provide that hometown atmosphere we treasure. With growth comes change, and change calls for decisions.”