Former state Sen. Charlie Justice launched a bid Thursday to unseat Pinellas County Commissioner Nancy Bostock.
Justice, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, cited Bostock's vote to end fluoridation of drinking water and the county's fights with cities over EMS funding after filing paperwork to run Thursday.
Bostock, a first-term Republican from Treasure Island, voted with the majority in last year's contentious 4-3 commission votes to stop adding fluoride to water. Fluoridation is a practice endorsed by many medical experts, but assailed by critics, including local tea party activists.
"We have seen Washington and Tallahassee gridlocked by ideological battles. I don't want Pinellas to fall prey to the same partisan politics," said Justice, 43, calling his style "principled but pragmatic."
Bostock, 43, has cited people's right to make their own decisions on fluoride and concerns of over-exposure to infants. "It's been coming and I'm not the least surprised. I've just been getting my campaign off the ground," Bostock said of her preparations to seek a second term. She noted some of her "strong opinions" on EMS didn't align with other county leaders.
Justice served three terms in the Florida House and one in the Senate. But he lost badly in 2010 to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.
The contest is for the District 3 at-large seat, a countywide campaign. That means Justice will have to campaign in Republican-dominated north Pinellas neighborhoods. He has not been on the ballot in most of them.
."We were in possibly the worst political environment for a person in my party in modern history," Justice said of the 2010 race and his commission bid
Justice is an administrator at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.