Originally written and reported by Alex Tiegen April 20, 2011
Former New Port Richey Deputy Mayor Bob Consalvo is running for mayor.
Consalvo, who also served as the city's Parks and Recreation director for more than 20 years, said Wednesday that he was in the process of filing documents to qualify for the New Port Richey mayoral race. He has been in retirement for the past year, he said in an interview.
“Enjoyed being retired but missed being part of the city that I worked with for so many years,” he said. “So I did make the decision that I wanted to run for mayor, even though I knew it was going to be tough times. More fun if it would have been easy times coming up.”
Consalvo, 69, was appointed to fill a vacant seat in December 2006, after he retired from his career as parks and recreation director. He ran for the seat in 2007. He was elected for a three-year term and served as deputy mayor for the last two years.
Consalvo, who said he’s currently registered as a Republican but was formerly a Democrat, chose not to run for re-election.
“I wanted to take a year off and see what I wanted to do retirement-wise, playing a lot of golf, doing a little boating, fishing,” he said. “I also knew at that time that Mayor Scott McPherson was not going to run for re-election,” he said. “I didn’t want to run, get re-elected to council, then resign to run for mayor. So I figured it’d just be easier to take a year off.”
Consalvo worked as Parks and Recreation director from 1971-1974, left New Port Richey to work in the private sector out of state, then came back to New Port Richey, where he resumed as Parks and Rec director in 1989, he said. He continued in the job until 2006.
Consalvo, who has served as president of the homeowners association at The Wilds condo development on Main Street for 16 years, said his priority is New Port Richey’s budget. The city is currently tackling a $21 million debt incurred by the Community Redevelopment Agency.
“Everything comes back to the budget,” he said
The city has to find new revenue sources, he said. City properties and empty businesses could be redeveloped to create condos and encourage business downtown, he said.
One of the projects that resulted in the debt the CRA faces was one Consalvo initiated: the . The debt for the building is now $14 million. The price kept going up because projections changed, Consalvo said.
The recreation center, which opened in 2007, is a good resource for the community, Consalvo said. It can make money if it’s used well, Consalvo said. The concession center could be rented out, packages could be offered, birhday parties could be hosted, he said.
McPherson, outgoing mayor, served with Consalvo during his time on the City Council and said he had the impression Consalvo always had the city’s best interests at heart. He said he had a very positive experience with Consalvo, even when disagreeing with his stances on issues they discussed while on the council.
“He never engaged in anything that was self-centered,” he said. “He was never petty.”
Councilwoman Judy DeBella Thomas, who served on the council with Consalvo in his last term, said he would bring the experience of working for and on the council to the job.
"I can't think of anything that would prevent him from making a good mayor," she said.