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Pinellas primaries: Jones wins sheriff race, Dubov property appraiser

Jones

Jones

Randall M. Jones and Pam Dubov defeated their opponents handily Tuesday in Pinellas primaries for sheriff and property appraiser.

Jones beat John Pikramenos by a little less than 22 percentage points in the Democratic race for sheriff.

Dubov won by close to 25 percentage points over Frank Gregoire in the Republican contest for property appraiser.

The Jones-Pikramenos match pitted two former sheriff's deputies who were political newcomers. Their campaigning was spirited and at times nasty.

But Tuesday night, Jones pulled ahead and was magnanimous.

"We just stuck to our campaign strategy of putting the people first and sticking to our goal of real safety and real change," he said.

The 39-year-old Clearwater resident served 18 years as a deputy in the Pinellas Sheriff's Office before retiring this year to run for office. He worked in various roles from community policing officer to child abuse investigator. His highest rank was corporal.

On the campaign trail, Jones stressed the need for the sheriff to be more accessible both to his constituents and his roughly 3,000 employees.

Both Democratic candidates faulted Sheriff Jim Coats for not managing the budget responsibly. Coats, a Republican with no primary opponent, shot back, saying his opponents had too little managerial experience to know how to run an agency with a budget of more than $260-million.

Going into the general election, Jones is left with about $3,000 in campaign funds, compared with Coats' $105,000.

But Jones is optimistic.

"What's more important than the money at this point is just identifying with the people," he said.

Dubov, a veteran of the Property Appraiser's Office, beat Gregoire, taking more than 60 percent of the vote.

"This is just the first step," Dubov, 52, said of her victory, "and I'm trying to keep an even keel about it because we have a long way to go."

Dubov will face Democrat Ben Friedlander, a St. Petersburg Realtor, in November.

The primary took place in the shadow of last year's controversial land deal involving current Property Appraiser Jim Smith and the county. A grand jury was convened, but no criminal conduct was found. Smith decided against running for a fifth term.

That paved the way for Dubov, Smith's longtime deputy who spent 19 years in the appraiser's office before stepping down to run in June.

Dubov was never implicated in the controversial deal involving her boss' property, and attempts to link her to the scandal on the campaign trail appear to have failed.

Gregoire, a private appraiser with a lengthy record of involvement with professional organizations in his field, said he planned to get back to managing his business.

"I did put my heart and my soul into the campaign," said Gregoire, 56. "But that's not what my life is all about. And my life will go on."

Pinellas primaries: Jones wins sheriff race, Dubov property appraiser 08/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 29, 2008 4:15pm]
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