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Rene Flowers launches campaign with more than 75 early supporters

The list includes elected officials and community leaders.

As Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers prepares to officially kickoff her campaign for Pinellas County Commission Friday night, she’s rolling out a list of community endorsements more than 75 people long.

Flowers is running for the District 7 seat Ken Welch is vacating to run for St. Pete Mayor.

Flowers’ list of endorsers includes members of the Pinellas County community who are active in local politics and some elected officials.

Endorsers include Rep. Jennifer Webb, Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, St. Pete City Council members Lisa Wheeler-Bowman and Steve Kornell, St. Pete City Council member-elect Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Gulfport City Council member Michael Fridovich and Oldsmar City Council member Linda Norris.

Community leaders and activists on the list include Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum Executive Director Terri Lipsey-Scott, Stonewall Democrats head Susan McGrath, political consultant Greg Wilson and Vito Sheeley.

Flowers is hosting her campaign kickoff Friday night at Callaloo Restaurant in south St. Pete at 5:30 where many of her supporters are expected to be. The event is Flowers’ first major fundraiser.

Flowers is running on four key issues including affordable and workforce housing, transportation, environmental issues and economic development.

Of those priorities, affordable housing is at the top of Flowers’ list. She plans to leverage her experience as a former St. Petersburg City Council member and member of the Florida League of Cities’ affordable housing committee to improve on affordable housing plans the county has already undertaken.

Flowers also said she would support identifying new revenue sources for transit including leveraging an optional 5% gas tax or a 1/2% sales tax. Though Flowers said she though the gas tax would likely be more palatable to voters.

Flowers is running against former Florida Rep. Frank Peterman Jr. Others are expected to enter the race as 2020 draws nearer.

Both Flowers and Peterman are Democrats. Welch is, too.

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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