Shortly after results showed that he had won the race for Safety Harbor City Commission Seat 1, Richard Blake said he was ready to start working for the city.
"I'm relieved, happy and excited," Blake told Safety Harbor Patch. "I'm excited to get to work for the city."
Blake took 4,622 votes, or 55.98 percent, Tuesday, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.
Blake had been in a heated battle with fellow candidates Ray R. Irvin and Robert 'Bobby' Saltzman for the past few months to take the seat being vacated by Joe Ayoub, who is assuming the position of mayor in January.
"I'm sure whoever wins will do a great job representing the city," Ayoub said earlier in the day at the Safety Harbor Public Library precinct.
"I look forward to working with whoever wins."
According to the Supervisor of Elections results posted online, Irvin received 2,128 votes (25.78%) while Saltzman had 1,506 votes (18.24%). The unofficial results must be verified by the state.
"I'm happy for them," Irvin said afterwards of the Blake campaign. "I'd have been happier for me if I won, but it's OK."
"Congratulations to Mr. Blake," Saltzman said from his unofficial headquarters at Cafe Orlando. "I'm surprised the margin was that big ... but I did everything I could do."
While his opponents publicly stated they were against major developments in the community, such as the Firmenich property proposal and commercial projects being added to the waterfront park, Blake, a local real estate agent and longtime resident of the area, said he was for exploring new revenue streams for the city.
He believes people considered his plans for the future of Safety Harbor when casting their votes on Tuesday.
"I think people resonated with the idea of choosing someone who can improve the city and create sources of revenue, while still retaining the culture and atmosphere Safety Harbor has," he said.
"They understand I'm someone who wants to improve the city without changing the culture. It's nice to know the city supports me and the things I stand for."
While Blake said he is not sure what his immediate plans are as far as civic work goes, he admitted he has made many contacts over the past few months, and he is eager to collaborate with these people and hear their visions for the city.
In the meantime, he plans on working at his real estate office and taking care of his wife, Katie, who is expecting the couple's first child next month.
"Right now I'm going to have some pizza and couch time, and then probably rub my wife's feet some," he admitted after the long campaign ended Tuesday night.
"We're relieved it's over. I'm eager to get to work."
For more information about Richard Blake and his thoughts on issues affecting the community, here is some recent coverage Safety Habor Patch provided during the city commission race.
- Meet The Candidate: Richard “Rick” Blake
- Commission Candidates Voice Opinions on Key Issues
- Commission Candidates Address Timely Topics at Forum