Two unopposed candidates mean no March election in St. Pete Beach

St. Petersburg

Latvala launches Web site for state Senate campaign

Republican Jack Latvala unveiled his campaign Web site, jacklatvala.com, last week in his bid to return to the Florida Senate.

The site was created by Americana Media Consulting, owned by former Jeb Bush aide David Bishop in Tallahassee.

Latvala faces Democrat Nina Hayden in 2010 for the District 16 seat held by Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, who is now a candidate for Congress.

Pinellas County

Cancer gone, Morroni plans to attend dinner

Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni will have his annual public safety appreciation dinner on Jan. 29 at the Hilton hotel in Carillon. It wasn't held in 2009 because Morroni was being treated for cancer, which he recently announced is in remission.

The dinner was started in memory of Belleair police Officer Jeffery Tackett, who died in a 1993 shooting when he responded to a call alone. Morroni and Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, later sponsored a law requiring that two officers be on duty in communities. The first dinner was in 1995.

To make reservations by the Jan. 25 deadline, call (727) 791-3356. Tickets are $75, and the money goes to Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast and the Children's Burn Foundation of Florida Inc.

Kenneth City

You're qualified to run for city office — NOT!

History seems to be repeating itself in this dot-sized town.

Kenneth City officials qualified Ron Neuberger to run for one of the two available council seats last month. They then told Neuberger he's not qualified because he has not been a registered voter in the town for at least two years before signing up to run.

"Failure to provide documentation to the contrary will disqualify you from candidacy," Kenneth City Deputy Town Clerk Laura Owsley wrote in a certified letter to Neuberger.

The town's evidence: a statement from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office that Neuberger made a phone call to that office on Dec. 15 to change his address from Pinellas Park to Kenneth City. That was three days before he picked up paperwork for his council run.

"It was a complete slip," said Neuberger, a firefighter with Lealman Fire and Rescue who said he has lived in Kenneth City for three years but forgot to change his voter registration. He said he plans to fight for the right to run for the council until he has no more recourse.

Neuberger is seeking one of two open seats on the council, which are held by Wanda Dudley and Al Carrier. Both are running for re-election. Also running is Joanne DeSimone. The two highest vote-getters will go into office after the March 9 election.

Neuberger's situation is eerily reminiscent of the campaign in early 2009 of Mayor Pro Tem Teresa Zemaitis. Zemaitis qualified to run for mayor, only to be told later she could not run because, as a public school teacher, she was banned by the charter from serving. Zemaitis chose to stay in the race, won by a landslide but was then disqualified by a court from serving. A settlement was reached wherein she would serve as mayor pro tem until this March, when voters will have a chance to retroactively change the charter to allow public employees to serve as mayor.

Kenneth City has about 4,500 residents. It is about 1 square mile in area and is along 54th Avenue N just east of 66th Street.

St. Pete Beach

Unopposed candidates mean no March election

Despite this city's often contentious politics, there will not be a City Commission election in March.

With no competition, Al Halpern, 63, will return for a second two-year term in District 1, and Marvin Shavlan, 53 and a political newcomer, will replace retiring Christopher Leonard as the District 3 commissioner.

Halpern, who serves as vice mayor, is a retired Lockheed Martin engineer. Shavlan, who serves on the city's Historic Preservation Board, is president and co-owner of Bond Jewelers in St. Petersburg.

Both automatically elected commissioners have ties to the pro-growth political organization Save Our Little Village, and they agree development is needed to revitalize the city's tourism sector.

Both also plan to push for a revenue-producing public marina at the city's waterfront recreation complex. Halpern calls the idea his "pet project," and Shavlan says such a project could make sense for the financially strapped city.

Times staff writers David DeCamp, Anne Lindberg and Sheila Mullane Estrada contributed to this report.

Two unopposed candidates mean no March election in St. Pete Beach 01/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 3:30am]

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