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Smith beats veteran Black for Largo commission seat

LARGO — City Commission candidate Michael Smith couldn't get a local news channel on the television at Louie's Grill & Sports Bar, the site of his election night party. A hockey game was on instead.

So Smith had to check results online with his cellphone. He was happy to see this about 7:30 p.m.:

Michael Smith: 53.97%

Mary Gray Black: 46.03%

41 of 41 precincts reporting.

The 30-year-old political newcomer unseated the veteran Black, 72, potentially ending the political career of a woman who has served on Largo's commission off and on since the 1970s.

Smith won by 546 votes out of 6,882 cast, according to unofficial results Tuesday night. Voter turnout was 15 percent.

"I'm proud of my team, and I'm proud of the Largo voters who stood up and voted for me, for a new voice," Smith said.

The campaign between Smith, who is gay, and Black got a bit testy in October, when Black accused Smith of being deceptive to voters. Smith's campaign literature did not say he was gay, and included a photo with Smith next to a woman and her young child.

Black emailed a statement to the media Tuesday night.

"It has been a pleasure to serve the residents of Largo for the past 61/2 years. I know that God will use Michael Smith to serve His purpose, whatever that purpose might be. I thank the many residents who supported my campaign and voted for me. I congratulate Michael on his victory and encourage him to serve the people of Largo with integrity, honor, and dedication."

Smith will serve a three-year term with a salary of $13,125.46. This was the last odd-year election for Largo's commission, and Smith will be the last commissioner to serve a three-year term. A 2010 referendum lengthened commission terms to four years, to align them on even-numbered years.

Smith beats veteran Black for Largo commission seat 11/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 11:02pm]
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