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Vincent, Hoppe win seats on Town Council

(ran LA edition)

As predicted, beginner's luck held here and political newcomer Jewell Vincent was the top vote-getter Tuesday in the race for two at-large council seats.

The other winner in the council race was incumbent Janet Hoppe.

Vincent, 49, an operations supervisor for H & R Block in St. Petersburg, never had run for office before but had said she hoped a new voice and fresh perspective would help get some of the town's stalled projects moving again.

She had said some of the top priorities are getting Gulf Boulevard widened and moving forward with the beautification plan.

"I'm very excited tonight," she said. "I feel this is a vote of confidence for me."

She said the people of Indian Shores were "looking for a change, and I'm going to give it to them."

Mayor Robert McEwen, who was automatically re-elected Tuesday to a third term because nobody opposed him, had predicted Vincent stood a strong chance of winning because, he said, his town has a history of electing people who had not served before.

This will be 63-year-old Hoppe's third term as a council member: She is a council member now and also served from 1985 until 1987. She served one term as mayor in 1988.

"I had an awful lot of very good support throughout the town," she said. "I would like to feel it (her victory) was because I was a community-oriented person and I did a good job.

"I think we have a good council and we'll all work together," she said.

She said she would like the town to seek state grants to help push its beautification project.

This race was without any pressing issues and was decided mostly on personalities, Hoppe said. Turnout, at 38 percent, was lower than usual for the town, she added.

The other two candidates were Jane Hawk and Kenneth Johnston, both former council members.