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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Latvala goes defensive about Jim Smith, spending, mayors



For the first time in more than a decade, Susan Latvala's place in the halls of power faces a credible challenge in Pinellas County.

And it's starting to show.

Latvala, a commissioner since 2000 and a School Board member for eight prior years, has been forced to defend the rise and fall of county finances, and the board's transparency to the public following the Jim Smith scandal.

She faces the former mayor of Tarpon Springs, Beverley Billiris, and a relative newcomer with tea party ties, Carl Folkman, in the Aug. 24 Republican primary. Whoever wins will run against former Dunedin mayor Bob Hackworth in the Nov. 2 general election.

The competition has made the race for the north Pinellas District 4 commission seat one of the county's most watched this year.

"I think they are misrepresenting the record to the public and it's so unfair," said Latvala, 61, a Palm Harbor resident. "What is going on in the economy, it's a huge, huge deal … government is being forced to downsize."

More here

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:41pm]


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