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Politics

Tarpon Springs Elects New Greek-American Mayor Costa Vatikiotis

TARPON SPRINGS, FL – The newly elected mayor of Tarpon Springs is another Greek-American, Costa Vatikiotis, who begins his term on April 12 following the previous Greek-American Chrysostomos (Chris) Alahouzos, who after two consecutive three-year terms cannot seek a third due to term limits.

Vatikiotis, 73, is one of the three commissioners of the Municipality. He received 3,131 votes (56.5%), while his opponent, Robin Saenger received 2,415 votes (43.5%).

During the elections that took place March 15 in Pinellas County, another Greek-American, Panagiotis “Peter” Koulias, won a seat as a new commissioner, while Greek-American George Koulianos lost his seat as commissioner by just 10 votes.

Vatikiotis defeated Robin Saenger, a former commissioner, who until three years ago maintained an art company. The official announcement of the results will be made, according to the legislation, in ten days.

“I ran for mayor, because I want to do projects in the ‘Greek Village’ of Tarpon Springs,” Vatikiotis told The National Herald shortly after his victory. “We are losing Greek and our history and if we do not do something we will lose everything. I wanted to be mayor to do something about it. We do not want the Greek language and history to be lost. I want the Greek color to be kept in Tarpon Springs.”

Vatikiotis thanked all the Greek-Americans for their support and their votes. “I promise to work hard, to preserve everything Greek in our city,” he noted.

The new mayor was born in Tarpon Springs. His grandfather, Kostas Vatikiotis, was born in Aegina and in 1905 he was among the first 50 spongers who came from this island and engaged in sponge fishing in Tarpon Springs. Later, he returned to Aegina, where in 1910 Sozon Vatikiotis, father of the new mayor, was born. He also came to America in 1934. The mother of the new mayor, Maria, was born in America to parents from Halki.

Vatikiotis has two sons and a daughter with his wife, Darlene. Sozon is 40 years old, Stefanos, 38, and Katerina, 30. He also has three grandchildren.

His profession was an engineer, but for 20 years he served in the U.S. Navy, where he had even served as a commander. There he met his wife, who was also a commander, and has roots from Germany and Hungary and is an Orthodox Christian.

Throughout the years Vatikiotis attends church in the historic Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Tarpon Springs. His grandchildren were also baptized there.

In the other elections results, Panagiotis “Peter” Koulias won the position of commissioner for Seat 4 against Jacqueline Turner. He received 2,872 votes (52.3%), against 2,616 votes (47.7%).

George Koulianos, who lost for Seat 3, by only 10 votes, received 2,739 votes (49.9%), while his opponent, Michael Eisner, received 2,749 votes (50.1%).

The municipal elections were held in the 10 cities and towns of Pinellas County and the election observer said the day ended successfully and as expected.

It should be noted that Chris Alahouzos, whose term is ending, had officially announced his candidacy for the post of mayor of Tarpon Springs about this time in 2014 at the historic site of the Epiphany ceremony in Spring Bay, a short distance from the Cathedral of St. Nicholas.

Alahouzos, who was then a commissioner and deputy mayor, had focused his speech on the efforts to encourage and attract new businesses to Tarpon Springs in order to create jobs and for the care of the elderly.

Alahouzos had also served for six years in the Planning and Zoning Department of the Municipality of Tarpon Springs and had twice been elected City Commissioner, while he had been elected Deputy Mayor. He also continued to lead the Twinning of Cities program and as a member of the Council of Plato’s Academy. Until his retirement, he was a senior executive at Verizon.

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