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Oldsmar City Council races: What you need to know

Most of Oldsmar’s City Council members, including the Mayor, are up for re-election next March. Seven candidates have filed in the races for Mayor and Seats One, Two, and Four.

Eric Seidel, the current Vice Mayor, so far is running unopposed to replace Doug Bevis as Mayor.

Two newcomers, Matt Clarke and Andrew Knapp, and former Council Member Linda Norris are running for Vice Mayor to replace Seidel.

Dan Saracki is running unopposed in his Seat Two. Seat Four incumbent Jerry Beverland drew one challenger, Katie Gannon.

Seat Three’s Gabby McGee is not up for re-election this cycle.

Seat One’s Clarke is the most monied candidate facing challengers so far. Clarke loaned his campaign $10,100 but hasn’t received any contributions from donors.

Norris is second in the funding race, but the only in the Vice Mayor contest to bring in contributions from Oldsmar residents and other outside donors. She has raised $1,900 including contributions from former state Rep. Carl Zimmerman and Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard. Norris loaned her campaign $500.

Knapp has brought in just $304 through a personal loan.

None of the three candidates have spent much. All forked out a little more than $100 on campaign filing and qualifying fees. Clarke spent just shy of $400 on T-shirts and business cards.

Clarke is an Oldsmar businessman and co-founder of Shermatt International Million Dollar International Export Company. Norris is an Oldsmar lawyer, and Knapp is an engineer.

Seat Four incumbent Beverland is seeking re-election despite years of personal tragedy.

The longtime Council Member has lived in Oldsmar since before air conditioning was the norm. He writes books on the city’s history. He and his wife, Wanda, have lost both of their sons to a rare genetic illness and, in 2006, lost their 16-year old granddaughter when she was hit by a car while skateboarding in Clearwater.

Beverland’s perseverance through tragedy is enough on its own to make challenging him an uphill climb. Since the 1970s, Beverland has served a total of 25 years on Oldsmar City Council as Mayor, Vice Mayor, and City Council Member.

He has worked in various capacities throughout this life. He managed Winn Dixie stores for a couple of years and owned landscaping and roofing companies. Now he’s an antique dealer, according to his LinkedIn bio.

His challenger, Gannon, is a young lawyer and mother of two toddlers. She’s running as “a new voice” in the city to “make downtown a reality.” While her campaign website does not specifically mention Beverland, she paints her campaign as forward-looking, rather than backward.

Gannon is well-connected in the community, serving on the Oldsmar Leisure Services Advisory Board, the Oldsmar Historical Society, Oldsmar Women’s Club, and Friends of the Oldsmar Library. She and her husband have lived in Oldsmar since 1990.

Gannon’s campaign is so far self-funded.

The qualifying deadline for the Oldsmar race is close of business Friday.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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