Greek-American Clearwater Mayor Cretekos Calls for Assault Weapons Ban

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos. Photo: Courtesy of George Cretekos

CLEARWATER, FL – George Cretekos, the Greek-American Republican Mayor of Clearwater, on September 16 urged city council members “to support a sweeping resolution calling on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines; pass a national red flag law and expand gun background checks to cover private sales,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Cretekos said, “I’ve gone to church, I’ve prayed. My prayers aren’t working,” the Times reported.

Cretekos spoke to The National Herald about the resolution pointing out that “we’re not trying to take away your guns,” and questioned why someone would need a military-style assault weapon.

He said that he feels the military-style assault weapons are a threat to our youth and society, noting the high number of casualties and the terror caused by attacks with such weapons whether it’s a synagogue, church, school, or a nightclub.

Cretekos told TNH that he realizes this is an emotional issue and understands the concerns of the other side, but the majority of people in the United States support similar bans on weapons that are designed for military use.

Though the Times pointed out that the passage of the resolution is in doubt, since state lawmakers in Florida banned cities from passing their own regulations on guns, “it was a remarkable symbolic move for the normally politically averse City Council.”

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos. Photo: Facebook

Cretekos said, “in the past, the council and I have stayed away from national issues, but I think this issue is something that we need to consider to let people know where we stand as a community to encourage safety,” the Times reported.

The Mayor is also very involved at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Clearwater, where he serves as an altar assistant and lay reader. He told the Times that “leaders in Washington need to address the ongoing crisis.”

Cretekos said that “the nation should revisit the federal assault weapons ban that was on the books from 1994 until 2004,” the Times reported, adding that “that law banned certain weapon modifications, and its magazine capacity limit of 10 rounds would likely have rendered illegal the ammunition clips used by the El Paso and Dayton shooters.”

Two more Clearwater council members are needed before the resolution can be put to a vote on September 19. As of September 16, “only Jay Polglaze said he supports it,” the Times reported.

Republicans Dave Allbritton and Hoyt Hamilton “each said that although they support the resolution’s more modest proposals, they wouldn’t back a call for an assault weapons ban,” the Times reported.

Cretekos said he presented his proposal “with no idea how it would fare,” the Times reported, adding that “I appeal to your conscience. What are we going to say to our residents if something like an Odessa, or an El Paso or a Dayton happens in Clearwater?”

A lifelong resident of Pinellas County, George N. Cretekos grew up in Tarpon Springs and was graduated from Tarpon Springs High School. During his junior year at Davidson College, he was selected for the Washington Semester program at American University in Washington, DC. He received an AB degree in Political Science in 1969 from Davidson. Cretekos earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970.

On Jan. 3, 1971, Cretekos began his career as a legislative staff assistant for Pinellas County’s newly elected U.S. Representative C. W. Bill Young. After several years in Washington, Cretekos was transferred to Pinellas County to assume the position as Congressman Young’s district assistant. He went back to Washington in the mid-1980s, but in 1986 he returned to Pinellas County again to direct the congressman’s local offices.

Following his retirement in May 2006, Cretekos served as a missionary in Medan, Indonesia for the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Cretekos was unopposed in his bid to fill the remaining term of a vacated council seat in 2007 and was re-elected to a four-year term in January, 2008. He was elected Mayor on Jan. 31, 2012, and reelected without opposition in 2016. He has served as President of the Barrier Islands Government Council and of the Pinellas County Mayors’ Council. Cretekos, a more than 60-gallon blood donor, is on the Tampa Bay Area Board of Reference of One Blood and is a volunteer courier for the National Marrow Transplant Program.

Most recently, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs presented Mayor Cretekos its Distinguished Alumnus Award.  The Salvation Army awarded its OTHERS Award to Mayor Cretekos in recognition of his service throughout the community, and he has also been honored with the Good Scout Award by the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Cretekos and his wife Carolyn, also a Tampa Bay native, moved to Clearwater’s Sand Key in 1976 and still reside there.