Spina and Monson take election victories

There will be some changes in Zephyrhills City Hall as former Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina defeated incumbent councilman Alan Knight for Seat 2 and Melonie Bahr Monson was the winner of the three-person mayor’s race to fill the shoes of Mayor Gene Whitfield.

Spina, a long-time administrator in the city, served as city manager twice before retiring. He now returns to City Hall as a councilman after claiming 61 percent of the vote over Knight’s 39 percent. Spina locked up 507 votes to Knight’s 328.

“I was excited and I’m excited working for the city again in a different role,” Spina said. “Now we can do some things with these issues. It is a different aspect.

“It has been a rewarding  and intense experience. I was able to meet a lot of people.”

Spina was city manager while Knight was on city council and had a great relationship in and outside of City Hall.

“I’ve known him a long time and he done a lot for this community,” Spina said. “It is bittersweet.”

Monson, a political newcomer, served as the CEO of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce for seven years. Her campaigning netted her 59 percent of the vote or 502 votes. Pastor Nick Deford took 32 percent or 269 votes. Martin Harm claimed nine percent of the vote or 76 votes.

Surrounded by family and supporters at an celebration event at the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Center, Monson watched the results come in and saw her dream come true.

“I’ve dreamt it,” Monson said of becoming the mayor of the city she loves. “I talked about this 10 years ago. You think it’s going to happen, but you’re not sure if it will. The first people to put the phone in front of my face with the results, I just started crying because of my family.

“I’m very happy. I love people care. They care about what we’re going to be doing and they know I’ll be there for them. We’ll do a good job. It was an amazing thing. The first person I grabbed was my mom (Edna Bahr). I know if my dad (Ron Bahr) was here, he’d be proud. I brought a picture of dad tonight. He was with me tonight.”

Ballot initiatives related to the city’s charter fared well on the ballot with seven of eight referendums passing. The city’s incorporation date of Nov. 17, 1914 will be added to the charter.

Council and Mayoral terms will be extended to four years. The Finance Director and not the City Manager will make daily deposits  on behalf of the city and report deposits quarterly at regular city council meeting.

Other changes include the time election petition signatures can be obtained and Change from petition signatures may not be signed more than sixty (60) days prior to the date of election to remove the time constraints to obtain signatures to qualify for election.

Other changes approved affect the canvassing of the vote moving the time from 48 hours to the next council meeting and the charter will be reviewed every 10 years instead of every five years.

The only amendment that failed to pass was a change of time constraints to obtain election.

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