CLEARWATER — City Council member David Allbritton won a second term in Seat 4 on Tuesday, defeating two challengers with 56 percent of votes, according to unofficial results.
Allbritton, 71, a retired contractor, campaigned on his desire to complete unfinished goals that were delayed due to the the coronavirus pandemic, like his desire to make the city’s permitting process more user friendly for residents and business owners.
He pointed to municipal milestones the city still completed over the last four years despite pandemic disruptions, like the reopening of Crest Lake Park in April after a year-long, $5.7 million renovation and the groundbreaking in July of Imagine Clearwater, an $84 million renovation of the downtown waterfront.
“I’m just glad I have another four years to get some things accomplished,” Allbritton said on Tuesday. “I didn’t feel I had a full four years last time. There’s so much happening in Clearwater, there’s going to be a difference in Clearwater.”
Community activist Maranda Douglas won 35 percent of the vote with mail ballots and all precincts reported. Retired technology manager Gerry Lee won 8 percent of the total 19,253 votes cast, according to Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
The results showed a nearly 25 percent turnout, above the 17 percent in 2018, the last time a March election included only City Council races.
In the other race on the ballot on Tuesday, artist and community activist Lina Teixeira was on track to win her three-way contest for Seat 5, which is being vacated by city council member Hoyt Hamilton due to term limits.
Allbritton and Teixeira will be sworn into office on Monday after the nonpartisan election results are certified, according to City Clerk Rosemarie Call.
Council members earn $23,882 annually and serve four-year terms. All five council seats are at-large.
Allbritton was born and raised in Clearwater and touted his family’s deep connections to the community, like how his father served as a municipal and circuit court judge. He worked 37 years as a contractor and served more than two decades on various city and nonprofit boards before his election to the council in 2018.
He earned endorsements from the Clearwater Firefighter Association, the Pinellas REALTOR Organization and the political committee representing Amplify Clearwater, the city’s chamber of commerce. Mayor Frank Hibbard, city council member Hoyt Hamilton and four of the seven Pinellas County Commissioners also endorsed his re-election campaign.
He out-fundraised Douglas 2 to 1 with $50,220 in contributions as of March 9, the most recent treasurer report available. About 30 percent of his donations came from businesses and $4,000 from political committees, including one chaired by former state Sen. Jack Latvala.
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Allbritton said his mix of support from residents, businesses, developers and political committees shows the strength of his wide-ranging relationships.
However during the campaign Douglas, 31, challenged the so called Clearwater establishment, an influence she said for years has discouraged less connected candidates, and people of color like herself, from running for council.
In Clearwater’s history, only three African Americans have served in office, the last in 1993.
“Everybody has to understand how this good ole boy circle is still operating, and if they really want change they have to get out and vote,” Douglas said on Tuesday.
Douglas ran with a focus on neighborhoods, the environment and affordable housing. She had a grassroots strategy where she and her volunteers knocked on more than 8,000 doors to share her vision. Douglas raised $25,550, almost all from individuals.
Lee, 74, who self-funded all but $625 of his $5,625 campaign contributions, ran to ensure every street in the city has sidewalks, curbs and streetlights.
In candidate forums and interviews, Allbritton said he has worked to ensure a high quality of life for all residents and will continue to do so in his second term.
He praised Douglas’ campaign and said he hopes to see more political involvement going forward.
“I hope Maranda stays involved in the city,” Allbritton said. “I think she has a great future.”
Douglas, a member of the city’s Marine Advisory Board, said she plans to stay involved in Clearwater politics.
“I just don’t know that I want to wait four more years,” she said.