City whose mayor rage-quit over ‘reckless’ budget proposal swears in new leader

The residents of Clearwater, Florida, elected a new mayor who promised to spend their money wisely a year after his predecessor quit over the city council’s expensive plans to build a new city hall. 

“We have to be sensitive to what the people want at all times with our spending,” attorney Bruce Rector, the new Clearwater mayor, said. “You know, we’ve got an economy and inflation now that’s really hitting Clearwater families hard.”


“They care about streets and roads and neighborhoods and those infrastructure things. Primarily fire and police, that we keep the best fire and police and public safety officers, and so on,” he added. “People are the things that they’re more concerned about and roads and structures and less about buildings.”

The budget was the key issue in the March 19 election, particularly the cost of building a new city hall — the same issue that led to then-Mayor Frank Hibbard’s resignation last March. Hibbard opposed the city council’s “reckless” push to spend $90 million of taxpayer money on the new building and stormed out in the middle of a meeting while the subject was being discussed and abruptly resigned. 

Clearwater elected a new mayor after the last mayor, Frank Hibbard, resigned due to the city council’s expensive plans to build a new city hall.  (City of Clearwater)

In last month’s election, Hibbard threw his support behind Rector, a fellow Republican. He said the Democratic candidate, former City Councilwoman Kathleen Beckman, was one of the biggest advocates for the costly project. 


“[Beckman’s] number-one priority for our budget was a $90 million city hall; I resigned over that issue,” Hibbard said. “It is a wasteful, short-sighted monument to government. Fortunately, after my resignation, the press that followed informed our residents and the outcry resulted in scaling the project down by 50%.”

Construction on the project has yet to begin, but the building’s budget was cut to $45 million after pushback from residents. Clearwater has been without a city hall for the past five years after leadership moved out of the old building due to asbestos issues, according to city staff.

An aerial view of Clearwater Beach

The new mayor of Clearwater, Bruce Rector, said his top priorities are public safety, low taxes, and road improvements. (RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)


Rector was sworn in during Monday’s city council meeting at the downtown library. As mayor, he hopes to attract more businesses to Clearwater and said his top priorities are public safety, low taxes and road improvements.

“We need the best fire and police forces that we can possibly have right now for many reasons,” Rector said. “With so much going on in the world, across the United States, we just need to make sure that our folks here, typically our families and our children, are protected.”

“Many folks are having a hard time paying their daily living expenses, living paycheck to paycheck,” he added. “So, we need to be very sensitive to that and how we spend government money.”

This post was originally published on Fox News

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