Keeping Madeira Beach small means big wins for political newcomers

- A trio of up-and-coming political figures in Madeira Beach shook up Tuesday's municipal elections - putting a big finish on their campaign to keep the beach town small. 

On Wednesday, John Douthirt began to feel the welcome weight of becoming the new District 4 Commissioner. He ousted the incumbent candidate with 55 percent of the votes. 

Douthirt, who has no political experience, says it's a burden he's willing to bear to protect what he loves about his home.

"We didn't want to turn this into another Clearwater Beach with all the tall buildings," he said Wednesday.

Douthirt, new Mayor Maggi Black, and District 3 Commissioner Elect Nancy Oakley campaigned together on the platform of keeping Madeira Beach small. All three knocked out incumbents by appealing to voters worried about the beach scene's changing skyline.

"It's a lot of money, but you lose a lot of the quaint hominess of what this has always been. Although there is some of it left, it's just eroding and changing," resident Carla Hood said.

Candy Kitchen is one of the few establishments that has weathered the times, maintaining it's spot on Madeira Beach since 1950. Employees say it's a relief to know community leaders are on their side.

"When you get big developments, you lose character. You lose small businesses like us. We've been passed over many times for a big condo to come in and try and take over this place. It's kinda nice when you see local people step in and try and keep places original," Candy Kitchen manager Matthew Giordano said Wednesday.

Douthirt says he plans to let voters choose how their town should evolve into the future. After Tuesday's results, he's fairly certain they see eye-to-eye.

"I saw Madeira Beach, I fell in love with it, the small town atmosphere. That's why I bought here and live here; because of that. And I want to keep it that way," he said.

The first Madeira Beach commission meeting with the new members is scheduled for April 11.

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