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Stewart retains seat on board // COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 5

Incumbent Bob Stewart held on to his Pinellas County Commission seat Tuesday, defeating Democrat Larry Hyman, who was hoping to shake up the all-Republican board.

"I like the composition of the board," said Stewart, 58, who has served on the commission since 1994. "There are some really tough issues we'll be facing, and I hope we'll be equal to the task."

Stewart was first elected to the District 5 seat to fill the remaining two years of a term left vacant by Barbara Sheen Todd, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor and was just re-elected to fill the post of retiring Commissioner Charles Rainey.

Hyman, 64, said he was disappointed, but not entirely surprised by the results because Stewart spent more on the campaign.

Hyman was a City Council member in Cape Coral before he moved to Pinellas County in 1991. Hyman said he plans to remain active in the Democratic Party and get other Democrats to run for countywide office.

"Somebody has to be able to question publicly what is going on," he said.

Hyman works part-time for the Community Law Program in St. Petersburg, where he matches volunteer lawyers with low-income people who need legal assistance.

Before being elected to the County Commission the first time, Stewart served nearly 10 years as a council member in St. Petersburg. Besides the commission, he serves on the county's road board, bus board and planning council.

He is expected to be elected chairman of the commission by his fellow board members. Stewart said he looks forward to stumping for the renewal of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax.