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St. Petersburg Beach mayor retains post by 72% of vote

After a bitter and divisive fight for the mayor's seat, incumbent Michael Horan won handily Tuesday over his opponent George Manthos.

Manthos, who had served as mayor before, ran on a platform criticizing Horan's record of city priorities. Horan had fired back during the campaign that Manthos' term as mayor had led the city close to ruin.

Horan said Tuesday he was pleased with the outcome, but was somewhat surprised that he captured 72 percent of the vote.

In the other race Tuesday, which pitted two political newcomers against each other, Ward Friszolowski narrowly defeated Cherie Gordon for the District 3 commission seat.

Manthos had held that seat but gave it up to run for mayor.

Friszolowski is the chairman of the city's aesthetic and historic review board.

Without clear-cut political issues facing the town, a nasty side issue emerged during the campaign that seemed to dominate the mayor's race.

Horan battled persistent allegations that he was linked to a closed-down adult bar called Teasers. Horan said repeatedly that he had never owned the property at 85 Corey Circle, but had instead once operated a restaurant in the building.

However, property records showed that Horan was vice president of a company that had owned the property and the current owner made mortgage payments to the same company.

Horan had accused Manthos of using the Teasers issue as a smear tactic.

Also, the two referendum issues on the ballot both passed. Voters approved both changing the town's name to St. Pete Beach and allowing the city to purchase property in the Lido Beach subdivision for public open space.

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