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The Primary
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The Aug. 31 elections are more than primaries for the respective parties. The Aug. 31 date is being used to finalize some important elections, quite a few of which are nonpartisan – everybody plays.

Even if you’re not a declared Democrat or Republican, Pinellas County residents should take the time to help fill the two seats on the school board and the several judgeships.

On the school board, only District 1 is an at-large seat, meaning that the entire county can vote. You have to live in District 5 to vote in the District 5 race.

These districts all get so confusing to us average people. Talk to the politicians and they know where all the lines are drawn. Come in my office, we have maps. Still, I for one can never remember. I have discovered it’s printed on my voter’s registration card. Also, the sample ballots that came in the mail this week make it real easy as to what your personal elections will be.

We can’t encourage you enough to start with the information printed in your newspaper, do your own search on candidates’ Web sites, find out who you think would be your best ally in elected office, and then vote.

The Aug. 31 vote is the only election for the school board. The reason it is different from the others was to plan ahead in case there was a run-off – it would have been Nov. 2. There’s only two candidates in each election, so it will not be needed.

The other race that everyone should vote in is the judges’ – particularly important considering one of these individuals could decide on your fate, someday, if you got in deep water. The tricky part about deciding on these candidates is that you really have to go on their credentials, their past history and their general statements, as they are under extremely limited restrictions when it comes to campaigning.

The Aug. 31 election, as primaries, also decide on a host of committee people. It also will give Republicans the one chance to pick their candidate for specific seats. And in most cases, the winner will run again in the Nov. 2 general election.

Close to home, there are a couple of hot races in town. Who would think that a Clerk of the Court race could be exciting? It is when the Republican contenders are Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst of Bright House Networks and Seminole CPA/St. Petersburg College trustee Ken Burke. These are two stars in the county that give their party a great selection – it will be interesting to see which one goes on to the Nov. 2 general election.

Republicans (who seem to be having all the fun in the primaries) also will choose their best pick for sheriff – Jim Coats, second in command to Sheriff Everett Rice, or Tim Glassburner? The winner will be on the ballot Nov. 2 with Bubba “The Love Sponge.” What would we call him, anyway, Sheriff Sponge?

The at-large county commission seat race has the county power machine working pretty hard. There are four Republican candidates – Mayor J.J. Beyrouti from south county, Commissioner Neil Brickfield from north county, Lucile Casey from the School Board, and Ronnie Duncan of Swiftmud.

Difficult to decide who would do the better job, if a person doesn’t know a candidate personally, and doesn’t know their level of integrity. The best we can do is review their personal work in the community, what they talk about, what’s important to them. Talk to them if you have a chance. The county commission in particular decides on issues very close to home, as you know. If you live in an unincorporated area of the county, these people are your main legislators. If you have your own governing board, the county commission still decides on things like fluoride in the water, road improvement projects ... anything and all things.

For those who aren’t even registered yet – what are you waiting for? You have until Oct. 4 to register for the Nov. 2 election.

Mary Burrell is managing editor and editor of the Beach Beacon and Seminole Beacon.
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