Democratic incumbent Charlie Justice launched his first television commercial to advertise his run for Pinellas County Commission as the General Election inches closer.
Justice, who was elected to Pinellas County Commission in 2012 and reelected in 2016, is running against Republican Tammy Sue Vasquez for the District 3 seat. Before serving on the County Commission, Justice served three terms in the Florida House and one term in the Florida Senate.
The 30-second commercial, called “Important Work,” shows the adjustment commissioners have had to make in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including transitioning to online meetings.
“A County Commissioner used to attend long meetings each day,” Justice narrates in the advertisement. “Now it’s hours in front of a computer screen — but peoples’ needs haven’t changed.”
Justice’s commercial emphasizes his work on the commission securing emergency funding for the public health emergency. His race could serve as a referendum on policies to limit the spread of COVID-19. Vasquez owns the local Bark Life pet supply and grooming service chain. She challenged Justice after votes to codify Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide order closing grooming services, which declared them non-essential services.
Vasquez was one of many such business owners who rallied against commissioners for not loosening the Governor’s order. While the Governor’s order was ambiguous in some ways, it did make clear that while local orders could be more restrictive, they could not be less restrictive.
“We have much to be proud of as a Commission, and while there is still work to be done, the foundation we have built is strong for the challenges ahead,” Justice said in a news release. “Reducing congestion, increasing housing opportunities and continuing to grow our economy are keys to keeping Pinellas County the best place to grow up, work, raise your family and retire.”
Justice is leading the race, according to a recent survey from St. Pete Polls. The Democratic incumbent is leading Vasquez by four points, 46% to 42%. In that race, 12% of those surveyed said they were still undecided.
The poll falls mostly along party lines, and Justice led among the 424 independent voters polled — 47% to 37%.
From the most recent campaign finance reports, Justice raised nearly $66,880 and has about $54,880 left in the bank, while Vasquez has raised $50,608, but has less than $28,685 to spend.