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Former Pinellas Commissioner Bob Stewart's assistant files to run against Susan Latvala

For decades, she answered the phones and worked as an assistant to Pinellas commissioners, but now Wanda Kimsey is hoping to become one of them.

Last week, Kimsey, 58, who retired after working as an assistant to Commissioner Bob Stewart (also retired), filed to run for the District 4 seat, currently held by Commissioner Susan Latvala. A Republican, Kimsey would face Latvala in 2014 in a constantly expanding field of candidates that, including the incumbent, now has six contenders, four of whom are Republicans.

Asked if she'd spoken to Stewart before deciding to run, Kimsey said she had. "He's very supportive," she said.

"It's a good time to have a fresh perspective and approach and the citizens deserve to have someone who listens to them," she said in an interview, echoing a common thread among all of Latvala's challengers, who say that after three terms in office, the commissioner is out of touch.

Kimsey's campaign slogan, which is featured on her website, is "Wanda Listens."

Pointing to the commission's recent decision to approve a stormwater fee that charges homeowners based on how much of their land is impermeable, Kimsey said it was an example of the commission, Latvala included, ignoring residents' wishes. Most of her neighbors in the northern part of the county—Kimsey lives in unincorporated Tarpon Springs – will have to pay the highest rate, she said, adding that it was "excessive."

The commission should have set a flat fee for all unincorporated residents, she said, regardless of their property size.

Kimsey retired from the county in 2008 after 30 years of working there. In the primary, she will be up against Latvala as well as Republicans Scott Fisher and Tim Keffalas. Also running: Democrat Jack McAdoo, and Dusty Showers, who has no party affiliation.