Aaron Smith-Levin, Lina Teixeira nearly even in money race less than a month out from Clearwater election

Teixeira, a local art studio owner, holds a narrow lead against Smith-Levin, a former Scientologist.

Clearwater City Council candidates Aaron Smith-Levin and Lina Teixeira are neck-and-neck in the fundraising game as the two race to succeed term-limited District 5 Council Member Hoyt Hamilton.

Teixeira, a local art studio owner, holds a narrow lead against the former Scientologist Smith-Levin. The most recent fundraising reports show Teixeira has collected $69,398 since launching her campaign, while Smith-Levin has raised a total of $65,856.

A third candidate, pastor Jonathan Wade, has raised $8,295 as the latest entrant into the race.

Teixeira, who serves as the vice-chair of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership and serves on a slew of civic organizations, raised $19,925 in the latest fundraising report, which spanned from Feb. 1-16.

She saw 44 donors to her campaign in that timeframe, including a dozen $1,000 contributions from individuals like Porter Development LLC President Les Porter and restaurateur Frank Chivas. Several large donations were also made by restaurants associated with Chivas, like Island Way Grill, Salt Rock Grill, Salt Cracker Grill and Marina Cantina.

As for spending, Teixeira dished out a hefty $28,653 ahead of the March 15 election. She spent about $15,000 on consulting services, and about $12,000 on postage — an expense that has sparked a small feud between her and opponent, Smith-Levin. In her postage haul, Teixeira sent out the first negative mailers of the campaign season, directed at Smith-Levin. The mailers criticized Smith-Levin for previous bar altercations, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Smith-Levin, who has run his campaign as a vocal Scientology defector and critic, said in a video posted in response to the mailers that “a vote for Lina Teixeira is a vote for the continued Scientology takeover of our city.”

Smith-Levin has trailed Teixiera in the fundraising race, and collected $8,447 in the most recent finance period. Despite a smaller haul, he saw 116 contributors, including one $1,000 donation from Pennsylvania business owner Mike Long.

Smith-Levin also has kept his purse strings tight, only spending $13,746 in the latest report (and only $30,226 total). Most of his spending — about $13,000 — went to consulting services this time around.

Wade, who’s managed to stay out of the latest drama in the race, collected $7,625 in the latest finance period. He reported 10 donors, and contributed $6,500 in self-funding.

Wade spent $3,436 on postcards and printing expenses.

As far as the candidates’ platforms, Smith-Levin lists his priorities as making Clearwater more business-friendly, fighting back against Scientology and protecting the police. Teixeira wants to address the city’s over-reliance on tourism, an issue exacerbated by the pandemic, she told the Tampa Bay Times. As a small business owner in downtown Clearwater, she also seeks to be pragmatic about the influence of Scientology on the city’s redevelopment.

Wade, who served most of his career as a social worker and addiction counselor, decided to run for the seat in hopes of providing more diversity on Council, and to push environmental initiatives.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


  • Ani

    February 22, 2022 at 12:18 am

    There are points in this article that seem rather misleading.
    I hope people will take the time to look at what Aaron is actually about. He is running on very solid proposals to help Clearwater. His interest as a citizen with a family in Clearwater is sincere and honest.
    His campaign is not an “anti scientology” campaign but one with potential to really help Clearwater. Please do some research.
    Lina is a talented artist and involved in a lot of social campaigns that I’m sure are very good. But Clearwater needs someone who is focused solidly on helping the city to thrive. And by the way, Aaron has not been putting out “smear” campaigns in the way others have been doing. If you want honest and sincere….look up Aaron.

  • Karen Sharkey

    February 22, 2022 at 8:15 am

    Although I’m sure Lina is a good community member and artist, she still represents the status quo. Hoyt Hamilton and Mayor Hibbard are adamant supporters of Lina for the sole purpose of maintaining power over city council. I’ve heard many comments from Hamilton, Allbriton and Hibbard during city council meetings pertaining to over development of the beach, traffic on the causeway and NIMBY comments. It’s an arrogant and condescending array of comments such as “If you don’t like the causeway traffic, you should have seen it in the 1990’s” “It’s not the tourists that are clogging the streets, leaving litter and acting inappropriately, it’s Tampa and surrounding residents coming in for the day. We can’t stop those people from visiting our beautiful beaches!” “We need new hotels and condo’s on the beach, don’t forget that’s what keeps our property taxes low!”
    The manner in which Mayor Hibbard speaks to Mark Bunker and Kathleen Becker is often condescending, it seems he’s easily annoyed by these two. He’s told Mark “Get it right!” After a questionable comment referring to money spent. He also likes to mention his many years of service to Clearwater, and often tries to make Kathleen appear less than knowledgeable about a subject she may address.
    It’s definitely The Old Boys Network at issue here. Leave Scientology out of it. Aaron Smith Levin represents a shift of power away from the old way of doing business. Lena represents a united front for the status quo.

    • Karen Sharkey

      February 22, 2022 at 8:20 am

      Correction: Kathleen Beckman

  • Edward Smith

    February 22, 2022 at 10:24 am

    And by the way, Aaron has not been putting out “smear” This is beyond laughable, Lina has dealt with 6 months of cyber bullying, lies, and harassment! Aaron is a “Straw man” candidate, he stands for nothing. His statements that he will get Scientology’s 501 C3 status revoked are nothing but “red meat” statements that he and his minions know that the city council cannot do! The only agencies that could do that are the IRS or the Justice Department and over 44 years they have shown zero interest in dong that!

    People need to wake up to this nonsense he is spewing and check his background. Stalking women, vulgar mysoganistic behavior, hanging out in bars and admitting to getting so drunk he blacked out in a police report, provoking fights with men who are with the women he harasses, is this the behavior you want on a regular basis for someone representing your city?? Is this what a married man with 4 kids should be doing on a regular basis?

    We need someone with higher moral standards who has a complete campaign agenda and platform that will benefit the entire city, not a drunken, brawling one trick pony!

    Lina is the only choice!

    • Karen Sharkey

      February 24, 2022 at 7:03 am

      “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.” Way to take the moral high ground Edward. I’d bet you have a few skeletons in your closet. Most people do. After all we are flawed human beings, am I right?

    • Sally jones

      February 28, 2022 at 9:29 am

      Edward smith this sounds like something a scientologist would say 🤔

Comments are closed.


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