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Pinellas Supervisor of Elections: The Times Editorial Board recommends
The job includes running municipal and county-wide elections.
Election Day is Nov. 3.
Election Day is Nov. 3. [ MATT SLOCUM | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Oct. 2, 2020
Updated Oct. 2, 2020

Running a smooth election has never been more important than this year when voters are worried about their health, the integrity of their ballot — and making sure it will count. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office has pioneered and perfected the mail-in ballot over the years, making it so commonplace that it attracts no controversy, key in this pandemic election cycle. The current supervisor, Julie Marcus, has done an admirable job running seamless elections and deserves to keep her job.

Julie Marcus
Julie Marcus [ Courtesy Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office ]

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Marcus in May after longtime supervisor — and Marcus’ mentor — Deborah Clark retired. Marcus, 44, has spent 17 years in the office, the last eight as chief deputy. She has helped run more than 300 local elections, and that experience shows. She speaks fluently about the inner workings of the office and how to ensure that voting is timely and organized. Talk to her for just a few minutes and her passion for the job — and serving Pinellas voters — is obvious. She’s happy to explain the ins and outs of maintaining the voter rolls or how to attract and retain poll workers.

Marcus, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Florida, is a fervent advocate of mail-in voting, and Pinellas is a model in Florida for doing it right. Elections supervisors in local counties speak highly of her. Still, we would have liked her to expand early voting sites, especially during the pandemic.

She’s a Republican. Her Democratic challenger, 34-year-old Dan Helm, would like to update the office’s website and greatly expand the number of early voting sites. He points out that Duval County, with a similar population to Pinellas, has about four times more early voting sites. Helm, a lawyer with a degree from Emory University School of Law, has a clear understand of election rules. He leaves a good impression, especially for a first-time political candidate and an outsider to the supervisor’s office.

But Marcus has a better grasp of what it takes to run the office and oversee elections. She is professional, full of energy and has a clear vision for how to continue to ensure elections go smoothly. The job pays $170,065 a year and the term lasts four years. For Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board recommends Julie Marcus.

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Related: How the Times makes its political recommendations.

Candidate replies

Candidates not recommended by the editorial board are offered an opportunity to reply. They can send replies of up to 150 words by 5 p.m. Oct. 10 to Editor of Editorials Graham Brink at gbrink@tampabay.com.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news