Race to replace Kathleen Beckman on Clearwater City Council features some familiar faces

Leone Mannino Scott
Area Republicans are lining up to back and fund Mike Mannino, while Florida Democrats are rallying behind a young candidate and progressives back the grassroots candidate.

Three candidates are vying to replace Clearwater City Council member Kathleen Beckman, who is running for Mayor, in Seat 3.

The race features a previously unsuccessful candidate, a city employee and a journalist who for years covered Clearwater City Hall.

Mike Mannino, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2020, significantly leads his opponents in fundraising, with more than $46,000 brought in as of mid-March.

Javante Scott, the city’s neighborhoods coordinator, has raised just over $14,000, while Jared Leone, a journalist, has collected less than $6,000.

Mannino will be a tough candidate to overcome. He not only has significantly more money to reach voters, he also has powerful backing from local political leaders. He’s brought in contributions from interim Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst Sr., Pinellas County Commissioners Chris Latvala and Brian Scott, Sen. Nick DiCeglie, and The Florida Leadership Committee, a committee chaired by former Sen. Jack Latvala. His donor list makes clear that Mannino is the choice of local Republicans.

Aungst, Chris Latvala, Scott and DiCeglie have all formally endorsed Mannino, along with Sen. Ed Hooper, Rep. Kim Berfield, Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard, Clearwater City Council member David Allbritton and Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward-Bujalski, the only Democrat of the bunch.

Scott, meanwhile, is getting backing from the Florida Democratic Party through its Take Back Local program. Scott is one of two candidates the party is backing in Clearwater, including incumbent Clearwater City Council member Mark Bunker in Seat 2. If elected, Scott would be the first African American elected to Council in about 40 years and the youngest ever to be elected to the board.

Leone doesn’t look all that competitive on paper as the only candidate not to hit five figures in fundraising. But he’s been focusing on grassroots support, some of which comes from progressive circles within the Tampa Bay region.

Polls open for voting Tuesday at 7 a.m. A list of polling places is available on the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website. The race shares the ballot with the Presidential Primary, as well as races for Clearwater Mayor and Seat 2 on City Council.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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