Incumbents Reign in Gulfport; New Blood in So. Pasadena and St. Pete Beach

Ian O’Hara, left, a friend of the Michael Fridovich campaign and Matthew Snyder, the candidate’s assistant, both of Gulfport, study incoming returns during the watch party at the Neptune Grill just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, election day. Photo by Debbie Wolfe.


Christine Brown and Michael Fridovich, incumbents for Wards 2 and 4, respectively, will retain their seats on Gulfport City Council after the municipal elections on Tuesday, March 14. Brown had one opponent who registered, but did not campaign, while Fridovich faced three contenders who vigorously sought the post. Voter turnout was down from Gulfport’s last few municipal elections, however both Brown and Fridovich had the election won based on commanding mail-in ballot totals alone. Fridovich won with over 54% of the total vote; Brown won with over 80%.

For the first time in local elections, signage and ballots are now bilingual including both English and Spanish, as needed, based on a federal directive from December 2016. “All of our election-related materials have been translated,” said Jason Latimer, communications director for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. “Effective in December [2016], we began providing materials in both English and Spanish because the county is considered a ‘covered jurisdiction’ under the language of the minority groups provision of the Voting Rights Act.” Census data determines the minority status of geographic areas. On the polling place sign pictured outside of the City Hall voting location in Gulfport on Tuesday, March 14, “Vote” is the same in both languages, but the English word “precinct” also appears in Spanish as “precinto.” Anything that has to do with the act of voting or registering to vote has been updated. “Depending on the precinct, if at least five percent of the voting population identifies as Hispanic, then we also have a Spanish-speaking poll worker at those locations,” he said. Signage created by candidates is exempt. Photo by Debbie Wolfe.

In Ward 2, there were 1,738 total votes; in Ward 4, 1,771. Because Gulfport elections are city-wide, exact voter turnout will not be known until the number of total ballots cast is counted. This information was not available before press time.

Brown joined Michael Fridovich at his election returns watch party at Neptune Grill in Gulfport on Tuesday evening. The gathering doubled as a birthday party for the Ward 2 councilmember. Brown, who teaches math at Boca Ciega High School in room 314, notes that her birthday is also National Pi Day. She and her daughter sport matching Pi tattoos.

“I’m so excited to be able to do more for the city,” said Brown. “And, I want to thank Linda Bailey [her opponent], for making me work. That was good.”

Fridovich, with the help of Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, and attendees at his election returns watch party, called the election just before 7:30 p.m.

As to what won him the election, Fridovich responded, “The present city council is doing a good job. We work together 98 percent of the time. And, people don’t want change unless there is a reason to change.”

St. Pete Beach

Compiled by Lynn Taylor

Alan Johnson was the clear winner in the St. Pete Beach mayoral race on Tuesday, March 14, with a commanding 61 percent of the vote. Johnson defeated interim Mayor Deborah Schechner, who received 35 percent of the vote, and opponent John-Michael Fleig with 3.8 percent. The results were called around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, with all four St. Pete Beach precincts reporting. The unofficial* tally shows 2,941 voters went to the polls Tuesday or cast a mail ballot to elect a new mayor-commissioner, who will serve a three-year term.

Johnson, who has held many volunteer positions within the city but never an elected office, said, “I will say that ‘I’ didn’t win. This was a team win. Moving this city forward will take the effort and input of all of us  –  elected officials, city staff, businesses and all residents. Everyone adds value, and all have a voice that will be heard.”

South Pasadena

Compiled by Lynn Taylor

Gigi Esposito and David Magenheimer won the two open commission seats, soundly defeating former South Pasadena Mayor Dan Calabria, who was vying for a comeback. Esposito received 45.75 percent of the vote, and Magenheimer garnered 35.87 percent. Results were called Tuesday evening with one of one precinct reporting, with 1,670 residents voting at the polls or via mail ballot.

Esposito, a longtime activist who served on the Largo City Commission for six years before moving to South Pasadena in 2015, said, “I want to thank the voters of South Pasadena. I am anxious to take office and begin doing great things for our wonderful city.”

Magenheimer, who grew up in South Pasadena and has lived there for 40 years, is a newcomer to politics.

“I am honored that the people of South Pasadena have provided me with the opportunity to represent their interests on the city commission. I am very excited to get to work and see what we can accomplish together in the years ahead,” he said after his victory.

Note: Vote tallies are considered “Unofficial Results,” as totals do not include provisional ballots.



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