Incumbents take the night in St. Pete Beach, Redington Shores commission races

Chris Gaus Jennie Blackburn
One race was decided by just 13 votes.

Incumbents in both St. Pete Beach and Redington Shores’ elections were victorious following Tuesday’s Municipal Elections in Pinellas County.

Jennie Blackburn held onto her District 1 seat on the Redington Shores Town Commission, while Chris Gaus held his District 1 City Commission seat in St. Pete Beach.

In Redington, Blackburn again faced off against Tom Kapper. The race was a rematch and shot at redemption for Kapper, who was ousted from the District 1 seat by Blackburn in 2020. Kapper had held the seat for 10 years prior. Kapper was then the longest-serving Commissioner, but went uncontested until 2020. Blackburn was his first challenge.

That race was decided by five votes. This time around she nearly tripled the margin, beating Kapper by 13 votes, 120-107. Blackburn said she hopes to continue beautifying the town’s parks and streets, as well as enforce a lighting ordinance meant to protect nesting sea turtles along the town’s beaches.

Heading south along Pinellas County’s Gulf Coast, District 1 was also the sole race in St. Pete Beach. Gaus won another term by a much wider margin than his Redington Shores counterpart. The machinist-turned-realtor secured 62% of the vote to Terri Finnerty’s 38%. St. Pete Beach’s District 1 race pulled out 563 voters, 351 of which voted for Gaus, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections’ office.

Gaus has lived in St. Pete beach for more than two decades. Before that, he spent 35 years in St. Petersburg where he was a part of the Dixie Hollins High School class of 1979.

Voter turnout on Tuesday was low. Out of more than 120,000 potential voters, fewer than 34,000 cast ballots for a turnout of about 28%.

Races in beach towns and cities are often small but can carry a big weight. The 35 miles of beaches on 11 barrier islands cover 12 municipalities. The calm, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico pour more than $2 billion of tourism money into the Pinellas County economy each year.

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected].


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