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Cretekos Is Clearwater's Next Mayor

George Cretekos defeated challenger Christine Marketos-Cuomo in the city's mayoral election.

George Cretekos is the next mayor of Clearwater.

Cretekos beat out political newcomer Christine Marketos-Cuomo with slightly more than 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election, which saw 17,152 people make a choice at the polls for the city's future leader.

There are more than 66,599 registered voters in Clearwater. 

Residents also voted against two changes to the city charter that included adding time council members serve on the City Council and the time between charter reviews.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected (72 percent) the change that would add time a council member can serve. A few years ago, a council member could serve a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms, for a total of six years. However, changes in recent years extended officials' terms to four years.

Residents also decided (56 percent) they did not want the Charter Review Committee to meet every six years instead of the current five.

A change residents got behind (86 percent) was publishing when the annual city audit is available. 

Supporters of Cretekos filled the banquet room at  on Island Estates to hear the results.

Former mayor Brian Aungst and outgoing mayor Frank Hibbard were there to congratulate the mayor-elect.

"You know that when you pass the baton you have concerns," Hibbard said. "But I'm excited that George Cretekos is taking that baton."

Cretekos thanked his supporters.

"It's hard to believe a boy from Tarpon Springs has grown up to be mayor of Clearwater," Cretekos said to a room of cheers.

Before speaking, he said he wished his opponent well, although he only met her twice at forums during the campaign.

"I don't know her," Cretekos said.

Marketos-Cuomo was across town at the Laconian Society on Drew Street. The ballroom, full of supporters, sang and danced even after hearing of the loss.

"I think I had a good showing, considering," Marketos-Cuomo said. "I made a difference in the way people think, in the way they voice their concerns."

She hopes Clearwater's new leader is compassionate and said this is not the end of her participation. 

"I will make sure the city does what the people want," Marketos-Cuomo said. "Whatever way I can, I will be a voice."

Turnout was smaller than in the last mayoral election, when Hibbard won over Rita Garvey. Clearwater's last mayoral election, held during the presidential preference primary in 2008, had 25,716 voters.

More than 11,200 people mailed in ballots or cast early votes in Clearwater. There were only about 6,000 who came out on election day.

"It's embarrassing to me that people don't want to vote," Cretekos said, adding that it is residents' responsibility to participate.

Cretekos, who worked for many years for Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young and on the City Council, has two weeks to prepare for his next challenge. 

"I'm ready to get to work," Cretekos said.

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