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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Light turnout is likely for Pinellas primary

— Polling places throughout Pinellas County open at 7 a.m. today for the primary election to determine who will be on the November ballot in partisan races, and the final results in other races, including the school board and judges.

Voters who haven't mailed in ballots or voted at an early voting site will be able to cast ballots at their precinct locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

St. Petersburg voters in Precinct 139 will vote at Roberts Recreation Center, 1246 50th Ave. N., because of a weekend fire at their original polling place, the Vietnamese Evangelical Church, 4344 21st St. N.

Regardless of precinct, each ballot will contain at least one race of interest to all voters, especially because some will be decided once and for all today.

Voters will get to decide on four nonpartisan School Board races, two of them countywide, today. For the at-large District 2 seat, incumbent Terry Krassner and Chris Tauchnitz will be on the ballot. The two contenders on the ballot for the countywide District 3 seat are Kent Curtis and incumbent Peggy O'Shea.

For the District 4 seat, former Tarpon Springs mayor Beverley Billiris and two others, John Nygren and Ken Peluso will be on the ballot. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote today, the top two will meet again in November. For the District 6 seat, Maureen Ahern is challenging longtime incumbent Linda Lerner.

There are also several nonpartisan judicial seats that all Pinellas voters will decide.

The three-way race for the Group 2 seat in the 6th Judicial Circuit will go to a November runoff if nobody takes more than half the votes.

For partisan offices, things get a little more complex.

Many Republicans will choose between well-known, well-funded party favorites and underdog counterparts.

In Florida Senate District 20, incumbent Jack Latvala faces auto shop owner Zahid Roy. Latvala has raised more than $485,000, while Roy has raised $2,500.

Bill Young II, son of the late U.S. Congressman C.W. Bill Young, faces lesser-known cab driver Joshua Black for State House District 68, which covers parts of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Feather Sound. Chris Latvala, Jack Latvala's son, faces Christopher Shephard in the Clearwater and Largo-area House District 67 primary.

Pinellas-Pasco Prosecutor Chris Sprowls will face tax lawyer Debbie Faulkner on the north-county House District 65 Republican primary ballot.

For Republican voters in Safety Harbor and Oldsmar, the State House District 64 seat election will not count. Because of a legal challenge, that universal primary will move to the November general election.

A few County Commission seats could be of interest to Republicans as well.

State Rep. Ed Hooper, who is leaving that post because of term limits, is challenging incumbent Norm Roche. All Pinellas Republicans may vote in that race to determine who will face Democratic Largo Mayor Pat Gerard in November.

Seven Republicans are competing to replace County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who is retiring from the District 4 seat that covers north county. The top vote-getter advances to the November election.

All voters in commission District 6 may vote in the primary between incumbent Commissioner John Morroni and challenger Tom Rask because there is no Democratic candidate in November. District 6 includes some of the beaches and much of St. Petersburg and mid-county.

Democrats will in the gubernatorial primary between former governor (and former Republican) Charlie Crist and former State Sen. Nan Rich. Democrats also will choose either George Sheldon or Perry Thurston to challenge incumbent Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi in November.

Democrats in State House District 67 will vote in a three-way primary.

All voters may participate in a referendum that could give tax breaks to businesses that move or expand within the county.

So far, turnout has been low, though political observers say that is to be expected in a primary that occurs during a year without a presidential election.

As of Monday, 101,941 votes had been received by the county supervisor of elections. Of these, 1,856 were early votes and 100,085 were mail ballots.


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Twitter: @kbradshawTBO

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