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Friday, Sep 21, 2018
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Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.

The rest still have a fight.

Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary. Others will battle until the Nov. 6 general election. But with the qualifying period closed at noon Friday, local ballots have finally taken shape.

Here are highlights from our four-county area:

Pinellas County

Commissioners Pat Gerard, a Democrat, and Dave Eggers, a Republican, drew no challengers for their seats, but four other candidates will fight for an opening in District 6.

Three Republicans and one Democrat are vying for that seat, formerly held by Republican John Morroni, who died last month. GOP state Reps. Larry Ahern and Kathleen Peters, and Barb Haselden, an anti-tax activist, will face off in the primary. Democrat Amy Kedron will meet the winner in November.

Thirteen candidates will compete for four seats on the Pinellas County School Board, with a raft of teachers and other newcomers seeking to topple three incumbents.

Terry Krassner, Rene Flowers and Peggy O’Shea will try to hold on to their seats against challengers who include union-endorsed teachers Jeff Larsen, Carl Zimmermann and Nicholas Wright. Other educators, including Nicole Carr and Bilan Joseph, also are on the ballot.

Former St. Petersburg City Council member Bill Dudley, teacher Lorena Grizzle and human resources manager Matt Stewart will compete for the seat opened by board member Linda Lerner’s departure.

Hillsborough County

All three county commissioners seeking to stay in office will face opponents.

Victor Crist, who is switching from District 2 to run for the countywide District 5 seat, will face Angel S. Urbina Capo in the GOP primary. Democrats Mariella Smith and Elvis Piggott also qualified, along with independent Joe Kotvas, a former commissioner convicted in a 1983 bribery scandal.

In District 4, incumbent Republican Stacy White and Democrat Andrew Davis will proceed to a November faceoff.

Longtime Republican Commissioner Ken Hagan will face a primary opponent, Chris Paradies. The winner will face Angela Birdsong, the only Democrat to file for the District 2 seat.

The toughest race to call is likely to be the District 7 countywide seat, for which seven candidates have qualified to run.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister, a Republican appointed to the post last year after David Gee retired, will be opposed in November by Democrat Gary Pruitt, a former Tampa police corporal.

Four School Board races are scheduled, and one — between incumbent Melissa Snively and event planner LaShonda Davison in east Hillsborough — will be decided in the primary. The others have at least three candidates each, so they could go to runoffs. The race for the countywide District 6 seat has six candidates and no incumbent.

Pasco County

Pasco’s primary ballot will be short, with many races to be settled in the general election.

The highlight will be a four-person race to replace District 5 School Board member Steve Luikart, who is not seeking a third term.

Two other incumbents, Allen Altman in District 1 and Cynthia Armstrong in District 3, are asking voters to return them to office. Unlike four years ago, when neither had opponents, each will face two challengers.

If no one wins a majority in these nonpartisan races, the top two vote-getters will face off in November.

Two county commission seats have no primary challengers.

Hernando County

Seven candidates each qualified for County Commission and School Board seats.

District 2 incumbent Commissioner Wayne Dukes, seeking his third term, will be challenged by fellow Republicans Charles Greenwell and School Board member Beth Narverud. Democrat Deborah Salvesen also qualified.

Commissioner Jeff Holcomb, the District 4 incumbent, drew a primary opponent, fellow Republican and former Brooksville City Council member Natalie Kahler. Democrat Nancy Makar also qualified.

For the School Board District 1 seat, incumbent Mark Johnson will face Spring Hill resident Catherine "Kay" Hatch. District 5 incumbent Susan Duval will be challenged by Joseph Santerelli, a Brooksville Baptist pastor.

Three candidates will fight for the School Board’s District 3 seat: former county commissioner and one-term School Board member Diane Rowden; Jimmy Lodato, an education activist; and Julius Blazys, a retired medical lab tester.

In Brooksville, former City Council members Frankie Burnett and Pat Brayton will battle for Seat 5. Council members Robert Battista and Betty Erhard won re-election for a second term without opposition.

Times staff writers Jeffrey S. Solochek, Megan Reeves, Marlene Sokol, Tony Marrero, Christopher O’Donnell, Mark Puente and Claire McNeill contributed to this report.

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