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Former Pinellas Commissioner Norm Roche seeks vacant Tallahassee City Commission seat

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche has applied to fill a vacant Tallahassee City Commission seat.

Seat 1 was vacated after Gov. Rick Scott suspended Scott Maddox following a federal indictment against the longtime Tallahassee politician.  

Roche moved to Tallahassee after losing his re-election bid for the Pinellas County Commission to fellow Republican Ed Hooper in 2014. The seat was ultimately won by Democrat Pat Gerard.

Roche currently works for the city as a temporary customer account specialist in the utilities department.

Roche, a Tea Party conservative, is one of many Republicans trying to capitalize on the interim appointment to the otherwise left-leaning City Commission.

Maddox was caught up in a years-long FBI public corruption investigation. He stands accused of a host of white-collar crimes, including racketeering, extortion and fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

It’s the same investigation that plagued former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who accepted free tickets to the Broadway show “Hamilton” from a federal agent.

Roche is now one of 17 applicants for the vacant seat, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Interested parties have until Dec. 22 to apply.

Roche was well-known in Pinellas County politics because of his opposition to water fluoridation, a position seen by many as pandering to far-right conservatives opposed to adding the chemical to water.

The issue ultimately led to Roche being unseated during a contentious Republican Primary in 2014.

Roche was also the lone opponent on the Pinellas County Commission to the 2014 Greenlight Pinellas referendum. It sought to raise local sales tax by 1 percentage point to fund sweeping transit improvements.

That initiative ultimately failed, but it was widely backed by elected officials, including Republicans, in Pinellas County.

In his application letter, Roche touts his experience as a Pinellas County Commissioner for four years as a key qualification to serve as a Tallahassee City Commissioner, noting his experience working with multiple municipalities on county issues.

The person appointed to the seat will serve until Maddox is reinstated to his position or until the end of Maddox’s term on Nov. 16, 2020.

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 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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