On the ballot: Often overlooked Pinellas County municipal elections are coming in March
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Local candidates will be on the ballot Mar. 15.

Behind the glitz of higher-profile elections it’s easy to overlook Pinellas County’s many small municipalities that also hold elections.

From beach towns to small mid-county enclaves, there are several municipal elections scheduled for March 15, a precursor to the wider-known mid-term Primaries that will occur throughout the state later in the year.

Florida Politics spoke with local City and Town Clerks throughout the county to find out where elections are being held, where they aren’t and who is running.

Here’s a rundown of what to watch:

Belleair — No elections

Belleair will not be holding candidate elections in March, with incumbents Deputy Mayor Tom Kurey and Commissioner Tom Shelly both running unopposed.

Kurey was first elected to the Commission in 2016, and was subsequently re-elected in 2019. He was selected as Deputy Mayor by the Commission in 2021. Shelly was first appointed to the Commission in 2005.

Belleair Beach

Belleair Beach will elect a Mayor in March, a contest that will pit incumbent Mayor Joseph Manzo against current Council member and Vice Mayor Dave Gattis.

The only incumbent Council member running for re-election is Robyn Ache, who was first elected to City Council in 2019.

That leaves two of the three Council seats on the upcoming ballot open, with Council member Rita Swope not seeking re-election. Those running for Council include Lloyd Roberts, Berc Sarafian, Jody Shirley, Lynda Kathryn Welch and Mike Zabel.

The three top vote-getters will be elected.

Belleair Shore — No elections 

Belleair Shore also only has one registered candidate, meaning no election in March. Michael Tolbert is the only candidate.

Clearwater

The city of Clearwater will have two races on the March ballot, including one open race to replace term-limited District 5 Council member Hoyt Hamilton

On the ballot is the City Council District 4 seat, which features incumbent David Allbritton against candidates Gerry Lee and Maranda Douglas. 

An open race will also appear on Clearwater’s ballot, with three candidates vying to replace out-going Council member Hamilton. The candidates running for the District 5 seat include former Scientologist Aaron Smith-Levin, art studio owner Lina Teixeira, cosmetologist Leslie Lightsy and Pastor Jonathan Wade

Kenneth City — No election 

In Kenneth City, incumbent Bonnie Noble has so far been the only candidate to file, although there are two Council seats up for election. Noble is seeking re-election to the City Council.

Oldsmar

Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel will be up for re-election in March. Seidel served two stints on City Council — one from 2007-2009 and again from 2015-2019 — and was elected Mayor in 2019. He’ll face Council member Dan Saracki who is in his second term on City Council.

That means Saracki’s Council seat will be up for grabs. Doug Bevis and Jarrod Buchman will face off to replace him.

Reddington Shores

In the Reddington Shores beach town, incumbent Jennie Blackburn will defend her District 1 Commission seat against Tom Kapper.

St. Pete Beach

Incumbent City Commissioner Chris Graus is being challenged by Terri Finnerty.

Tarpon Springs

Mayor Chris Alahouzos has reached term limits, leaving an open seat. City Commissioner Costa Vatakiotis is vacating his seat after just one year to challenge former Commissioner Robin Saenger for Mayor. Lisa Malamatos Benitez and Craig Lunt will vie for Vatakiotis’ seat 2.

Seat 3 will pit Michael Eisner against George Koulianos, both of whom are looking to fill a seat being vacated by Conner Donovan. Donovan is not seeking a second term. Townsend Tarapani is also not seeking re-election. His Seat 4 will be filled by either Panagiotis Stavros Koulias or Jacqueline Turner.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island has Municipal Elections scheduled for March in districts 2 and 4, but filing for those races is open until Dec. 29 and the races are not yet set.

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Florida Politics reporters Kelly Hayes and Daniel Figueroa IV contributed to this report.

Staff Reports



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