For Pinellas residents who haven't already voted by mail, Tuesday will be Election Day in about half of the county's 24 cities. Most of the election campaigns have been quiet and a low turnout is predicted.
Registered voters not inclined to visit the polls Tuesday should remember that local government is the government closest to the people and therefore, the government with the most impact on their daily life. Is it smart to leave the decision-making about local government leaders to someone else on Election Day?
Many people in Clearwater, and some in Oldsmar and Tarpon Springs as well, will be casting their ballots in new polling places Tuesday. More than 30 Clearwater precincts are changing polling sites, along with one precinct in Oldsmar and three in Tarpon Springs. Voters can find the list of changes on the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Web site at www.vote pinellas.com. Click on Current Elections and then Municipal Elections to access the list.
Here is a brief rundown of the candidates and issues that will be put to voters in North Pinellas cities:
Belleair: Voters will choose two town commissioners from a list of three candidates: Brad Ackerman, Patricia Irwin and Tom Shelly.
Belleair Beach: David M. Dumville Jr., Mitch Krach, J. Clarke McNeace and Leslie Ford Notaro are vying for seats on the City Council. The top three vote-getters win. A referendum question on the ballot asks if the city charter should be changed to eliminate the specific date by which the city manager must submit the city budget to the council.
Belleair Bluffs: Voters will choose two commissioners from among Joe Barkley, Hunt K. Brand and Taylour Shimkus. They will also see five questions on charter amendments. The most significant ones would require the mayor and commissioners to live in the city and they could not have other paid positions with the city while serving on the commission or for one year after leaving office.
Clearwater: Voters will fill two City Council seats, choosing from among Wayne Carothers, Bill Jonson, Joe Paige and Herb Quintero for Seat 4 and between Paul Gibson and Mike Riordon for Seat 5. One charter amendment concerns how the city hires external auditors.
Oldsmar: Two City Council veterans, Jim Ronecker and Suzanne Vale, are competing for mayor, and two council seats are being contested. Candidates for Seat 2 are Tom Eckert and Janice Miller. Candidates for Seat 4 are Robert Brown, Linda Norris and Loretta Wyandt.
Tarpon Springs: One of the liveliest campaigns has been in Tarpon Springs, where voters will elect a mayor and two commissioners. Candidates for mayor are David Archie and Matt King. Seeking Seat 3 are Jeff Larsen and Joe Muzio, and Seat 4 candidates are Chris Alahouzos and Beverly Kurpinski. The ballot also has four charter amendment questions, including one that would restrict service on city boards to city residents, and another that would require a citywide referendum before the fire department could be shut down.
The weather will be warming into the 70s for Election Day — great conditions to get out and exercise your right to vote.