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Voters hold key to St. Petersburg's future

On Tuesday, St. Petersburg voters will have an opportunity to put a brand new face on the City Council.

Make that new faces.

Indeed, with four seats open _ two of the races have no incumbent _ the council will definitely take on a different look.

And who will become St. Petersburg's "strong" mayor? Mayor David Fischer came in second to retired Army Gen. Bill Klein in the Feb. 25 primary. And since then, both have been running aggressive campaigns to get out the vote.

Unlike the primary, all of the city's registered voters (the deadline to register for the general election was Feb. 24) will be able to vote in all the races regardless of district. The district and mayoral races will show up on all ballots.

Voters also will decide two referendum questions. The Renaissance Vinoy Resort wants to build a 15,000-square-foot conference center on land behind the historic hotel. Because of restrictions limiting the land use to open space and recreation, St. Petersburg voter approval is required for a change.

And all voters in Pinellas County also will be asked to give a 10-year extension to the Penny for Pinellas 1 percent sales tax. Since the tax was first passed in 1989, it has paid for projects such as the Pinellas Trail, Brooker Creek Preserve and Bayside Bridge. If voters decide not to renew the tax, it will expire in March 2000.