Term-limited state Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, has filed to run in 2024 for the District 4 county commission seat now held by Karen Seel.
Latvala said he chose the 2024 race rather than running for a countywide seat coming open next year so he could avoid having to run a countywide campaign while finishing his last term in the state House.
Seel, previously a Clearwater city commissioner, has held the seat since being appointed in 1999 and doesn’t intend to run again.
“My skill set’s best doing something at home at the local level,” Latvala said. “Right now, 100 percent of my focus is on serving in the Legislature. Running countywide is a pretty daunting task and I owe it to my constituents to be their full-time representative.”
Asked what he wants to achieve as a commissioner, he said fellow Republican Kathleen Peters is the only consistent conservative on the board, “and I intend to go on there and give her some help.”
He said the current board members are “more concerned with keeping their jobs than getting anything done. They couldn’t even decide to name the courthouse after (the late state attorney) Bernie McCabe — that’s embarrassing. They need somebody to go in and shake things up.”
The north-central Pinellas county commission district largely overlaps Latvala’s House district and leans Republican.
No other candidate has filed, and Latvala said he wanted to let people know his intentions.
Holloway files for Latvala seat
Meanwhile, Jason Holloway, a Republican and former chief of staff for Democratic state Sen. Darryl Rouson, has filed to run for Latvala’s District 67 state House seat next year.
Holloway, 29, worked for Rouson from 2014-2019, then was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to a state task force on “block chain” technology for digital currencies. He has also done political consulting work and lobbying for tech companies.
He’s a University of Florida graduate with a master’s degree in block chain technology from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus – no U.S. university offers such a degree, he said.
When he first registered to vote, Holloway followed his parents’ lead as a Democrat, but became a Republican about four years ago because, “I resonated more with the Republicans on the economic issues especially — I don’t want big government,” he said.
A Florida resident since childhood, he lived in St. Petersburg while working for Rouson but now lives in the district, he said.
He said his campaign will focus heavily on transparency and accountability in government contracting, “increasing Florida’s technological footprint,” and environmental preservation.
He cited the state’s failed unemployment compensation system with a flawed website set up by the Deloitte consulting company, and a “revolving door between mid-level state managers and big consulting companies,” as evidence of the need for state contracting reform.
“They make sweetheart deals, then go make $200,000 at the consulting company. We’re wasting tax dollars on programs that don’t work.”