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Officials chosen in Pinellas municipal elections


mortensen is elected mayor in a landslide

Kathy Mortensen was elected mayor here by a decisive 77 percent of the vote.

Mortenson, 65, has served five years on the City Council and has said she hopes to strengthen the city manager-style of government. She received 315 votes, while her opponent, Stan Sofer, garnered 94.

Sofer had wanted to return some of the city's management back to the council on which he served for the past seven years.

Voters also solidly approved a series of charter changes that consolidates the city manager's powers, changes when the annual budget must be presented to the council, and streamlines personnel and board procedures. Those questions passed by earning anywhere from 72 to 82 percent of the vote.

By a smaller, but still significant margin, 59 percent of voters approved extending the terms for mayor and council members from two to three years


Deli owner Banno takes Ward 2 seat

Barbara Banno trounced Avrio Taylor, 1,073 to 525, in at-large voting for the Ward 2 City Council seat.

Banno, 40, owner of Stella's Deli, took 67 percent of the vote, to Taylor's 33 percent. Taylor is a 55-year-old registered nurse.

The two political newcomers were duking it out in the non-partisan race after Michele King, who has held the seat for six years, decided not to seek re-election.

Ward 4 incumbent Sam Henderson was unopposed in the city's other council race.


Campbell and Sneed win council seats

Voters in this small town opted for a fresh, younger face on the council and, in a close race, returned an incumbent to the other open seat.

Troy Campbell, 42, a systems analyst with Florida Blood Services, won in his first try for elected office with 274 votes, or 30 percent of the ballots cast. In second place was incumbent Ron Sneed, 51, a licensed remodeling contractor who did not attend the one candidates forum last month because of illness.

Sneed squeaked out a nine-vote victory with 235 votes or 26 percent of the ballots cast over former Kenneth City council member Philip Redisch, a 75-year-old retiree, who pulled 226 votes.

Incumbent Allen Schopp, 62, lost his bid for re-election, coming in last with 188 votes, or 20 percent of the ballots cast.


64% of vote makes Palladeno next mayor

In a sometimes bitterly fought race, voters picked Travis Palladeno as their next mayor.

Less than one third of the city's voters showed up at the polls and 64 percent of those voters gave Palladeno a comparatively wide margin of victory. He received 564 votes, giving him the nod over Steve Kochick, who got 324.

Palladeno's election appears to ensure a new coalition on the commission.

He joins fellow Planning Board member Robin Vander Velde and returning Commissioner Nancy Oakley, who had no opposition, as well as sitting Commissioner Carol Reynolds in a repeatedly publicized critique of the city's recent management and finances.

City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. recently resigned, citing the new commission's focus on fiscal austerity and the "micro-management" called for by Palladeno. Other key staff members have also left or are considering leaving the city.


Matthews and Counts return to City Council

Voters made a clear statement that they're happy with the status quo by returning two incumbents to office.

Bob Matthews, 66, who owns Seminole Garden Florist and Party Store, was the big winner, polling 1,129 votes, or 33 percent of the ballots cast. Matthews has served on the City Council since 1990 except for eight months in 2006.

In second place was John Counts, 44, a bank manager, who has served on the council since 2004. Counts received 944 votes, or 27 percent of the ballots cast.

In third place was Largo police officer Christopher Burke, 46, with 722 votes, or 21 percent. Trailing the field was Tom Christy, 59, a semiretired security manager for Cove Cay in Clearwater. Christy received 683 votes, or 20 percent.

This was the second attempt for both Burke and Christy to get a seat on the Seminole council.


Penny is re-elected to City Commission

Arthur Penny was returned to the City Commission for his first contested term of office.

Penny, 52, garnered 521 votes, or 36 percent, in a four-way election.

Max V. Elson came in second with 441 (30 percent). Dan Calabria had 361, or 25 percent, while Alan Devereaux received 138, or 9 percent.

Penny was first appointed to the commission in 2009 and ran unopposed in 2010 for the one year remaining on his term.


Slattery returns; Tarapani wins seat

An incumbent and a newcomer easily earned victories.

Incumbent Susan Slattery, 47, bested Jeffrey Antous, 58, and Tim Keffalas, 56, to retain Seat 2 for a second term.

In the Seat 1 race, Townsend Tarapani handily defeated Crissy Cladakis by garnering 2,348 votes, or 76 percent of the ballots cast, in his first attempt at elected office.

Slattery, who had 1,776 votes or 58 percent, was overjoyed.

"I want to thank the residents of Tarpon for believing in me," said Slattery, an insurance sales manager.

At 25, Tarapani, is not the youngest to be voted into office in Tarpon Springs. His father John Tarapani beat him out by a few months when at age 25, he was installed in December 1976.

Of his father being the youngest elected official, Tarapani, a Realtor, a retailer, and a citrus and cattle operations manager, said: "It shows the continued commitment of my family to Tarpon Springs throughout the generations and for more than 100 years."


Voters approve of all amendments, Collins

In a long ballot filled mostly with amendments to the city charter, voters approved them all, and returned Phil Collins to his fifth term on the City Commission.

Collins, 62, won the District 1 seat handily, receiving 334 votes, or 80 percent, while Dominique Marie Reiter got 84.

The 10 charter amendments were approved by an equally wide margin, with votes in favor ranging from 62 to 85 percent.

The charter changes included a prohibition against eminent domain seizures for private enterprise, eliminating runoff elections, extending the required review time for commission seat redistricting from every two years to every 10 years, and a series of procedural changes affecting referendum elections, financial audits, commission vacancies, and repeal of ordinances.

Compiled by Times staff writers Anne Lindberg and Demorris A. Lee and Times correspondents Sheila Mullane Estrada and Patti Ewald.

Officials chosen in Pinellas municipal elections 03/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 11:36pm]
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