In what some considered the most contentious and partisan City Council race in St. Petersburg for 2017, Downtown Neighborhood Association President Gina Driscoll has defeated businessman Justin Bean for the District 6 seat.
With most of the 92 precincts reporting, Driscoll took 55 percent of the vote, versus 45 percent for Bean.
St. Pete voters cast ballots Tuesday to determine who would be St. Pete’s mayor for the next four years — and the direction of the city, some said — as well as deciding three City Council races.
Voters overwhelmingly approved an extension of the Penny for Pinellas one-cent infrastructure sales tax (83 to 17 percent), and to allow the historic Vinoy Renaissance hotel to upgrade its parking garage.
Although the St. Petersburg municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, Driscoll supporters made sure everyone knew that while she was a registered Democrat, Bean was a registered Republican in a city that has become increasingly progressive in recent years.
Bean acknowledged that while he did attend Donald Trump‘s inauguration in January, he emphasized that he took issue with the commander in chief for “attacking the LGBT community” and his “denial of climate change.” He said he wanted to fight to make the party better, and would remain a Republican.
Bean was also on the defensive after the Driscoll campaign made an issue out of his past, specifically over a 2010 charge of resisting arrest which he did not admit to initially. That was in addition to a DUI charge he acknowledged in an early discussion of his campaign with the Tampa Bay Times.
Bean responded to the attack by accusing Driscoll of bringing up his past because she had nothing of relevance to say to voters.
In addition to serving Downtown Association head, the 46-year-old Driscoll works as a sales manager at the Hampton Inn & Suites.
In the crowded, eight-person primary in August, Bean easily took first, while Driscoll barely survived for the runoff by only two votes over Robert Blackmon after an automatic recount.