Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

South Pinellas local elections have close calls, new faces, returning incumbents

With only two votes separating two of the candidates in Indian Shores, it appeared from unofficial election results that the town is headed for a mandatory recount.

Three candidates were running for the two available seats on the council. Narrowly leading the pack was Pat Sorrano with 332 votes, or about 35 percent of the vote. Behind him were Mike Petruccelli with 315 votes and Diantha Schear with 313. Both had about 33 percent of the vote.

State law requires a mandatory recount if two candidates are separated by less than half a percent. But that could change as late-arriving mail-in ballots were being counted Tuesday night. And there are 75 provisional ballots outstanding. Provisional ballots are votes about which there is a question. Those will be counted at 5 p.m. Thursday. It is unclear how many of the mail-in or provisional ballots were from Indian Shores.

Here are the remaining results from the south Pinellas municipal elections.

Gulfport

Yolanda Roman won an easy election to represent Ward 3 on the City Council with 58.7 percent of the vote, defeating software developer Paul Ray, who had 41.3 percent.

Roman had campaigned on a platform of acceptance of all its citizens and of acknowledging the "racial diversity of our residents, as well as LGBT individuals," and advocating for a greater community awareness for services across all age groups.

She also advocated vigilant enforcement of safe-housing codes, saying "all properties should be held to the same standards, regardless whether they're rented, unoccupied or owner-occupied."

Kenneth City

Voters here went for change, electing two new faces — Barbara Roberts and Ellen Dalbo — to the Town Council over incumbent Phil Redisch.

Roberts, who works in purchasing for Tandel Systems, was the top vote getter with about 36.1 percent of the vote. She was followed by Dalbo, an exceptional education assistant at 74th Street Elementary in St. Petersburg, who earned about 33 percent. Redisch tailed the field with about 31 percent.

Both Roberts and Dalbo had campaigned on a platform of change in the administration of the Police Department and taking it back to a community policing-style department. Both said they would be willing to let residents vote whether to keep the department if those changes were not forthcoming.

Madeira Beach

Voters here supported incumbents all the way.

Mayor Travis Palladeno won in a landslide, with about 80 percent of the vote over challenger Dr. Victor Cucaro. In the District 2 race, Commissioner Nancy Hodges did almost as well as the mayor, polling about 73 percent to defeat challenger William Wright.

Palladeno campaigned on his record of leading the city, hiring a city manager and improving the infrastructure. Hodges said she wanted to continue on the commission to see through projects on the books — particularly the rebuilding of the City Hall, the fire station and recreational complex.

Pinellas Park

Incumbent Patti Johnson was easily re-elected to her council seat with 51.5 percent of all votes cast. Trailing was Keith Sabiel, a longtime Pinellas Park employee, with about 38.8 percent of the vote. Farther back was Eugene Hendry, an unemployed, first-time candidate, who took 9.7 percent of the vote.

Both Johnson, a business owner, and Sabiel had campaigned on experience. Johnson had touted her two years in office; Sabiel, his 39 years as a Pinellas Park employee. By the end of the campaign, Hendry had virtually disappeared from the race, failing to show at a candidates forum and not returning calls from the media.

Redington Shores

Challenger Mary Beth Henderson defeated incumbent Casey Wojcik in a landslide to win the District 3 council race. Henderson won with 140 votes, or about 64 percent, to Wojcik's 79 votes, or about 36 percent.

Henderson said she wanted to bring "new blood, a new vision and better communications" to the town's government. She said she could better serve the people living in her district and ensure that nonvoting property owners' voices are heard.

South Pasadena

Voters here favored incumbents, giving Arthur Penny and Max Elson the win over first-time challengers Harris Blair and Robert Small for the two available seats on the City Commission.

Penny was the top vote getter with about 36.5 percent of the vote. Elson came in second with about 25.6 percent. Trailing were Small with about 19.2 percent of the vote, and Blair with about 18.8 percent of the vote.

Elson is a retired business owner and consultant who wanted to continue the work he started in his first term in office — in particular, ensuring that the city's recent economic growth continues. Penny opposed higher property taxes and favored using grants to beautify the city.

St. Pete Beach

Voters here opted for change, ousting incumbent Mayor Steve McFarlin in favor of Maria Lowe and District 1 Commissioner Lorraine Huhn for Terri Finnerty. Gregory Premer outpolled James Anderson to take the District 3 seat.

Lowe won with about 52 percent of the vote, Finnerty took about 51 percent and Premer pulled about 55 percent.

Lowe is a disabled veteran who served in Afghanistan and a West Point graduate who said her background would enable her to help the commission find "win-win" solutions for the issues dividing the city.

Finnerty is a business consultant and the wife of former Mayor Mike Finnerty, who said her experience as a college-level educator and her business and consulting skills would make her a strong commissioner.

Premer vowed to compromise and negotiate issues facing the commission.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @ALindbergTimes on Twitter.

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