In Pinellas County, registered Republicans have the most decisions to make during the Aug. 26 primary election, but Democrats and independents also have choices at the state and local level.
Republicans and Democrats will pick their candidates to continue on to the November general election for governor and lieutenant governor and state representative. Republicans also will choose a candidate for state senator. Democrats will pick a candidate for attorney general.
Locally, Republicans also will pick candidates for District 2 and 4 county commission races. District 2 is an at-large position and all eligible voters countywide can participate in that election. District 4 is a single member position and only voters in the district can participate.
The commission race for District 6, also a single member position, is a Universal Primary. Only two candidates qualified and both are Republicans. However, per state law, all voters in the district, regardless of political affiliation will vote in a universal primary, since there is no candidate to run against in November. The winner of the primary will be the winner of the race.
Former State Representative Ed Hooper is challenging incumbent Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche for the District 2 seat in the Aug. 26 primary.
The winner of the primary election will face Democrat Pat Gerard in November.
District 2 includes portions of Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Belleair Bluffs and Largo. Because the seat is an at-large position, all registered Republicans, regardless of where they live, are eligible to help choose a candidate to run in the November election.
Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who has represented District 4 since 2000, is not running for re-election. Ten candidates qualified to run for her seat, including seven Republicans, one Democrat and two independents.
Because it is a single member position, only registered voters who live in the district are eligible to vote. Because the Aug. 26 is a Republican primary for this race, only those registered as a Republican can help choose a candidate to run in the November election.
Tom Rask is challenging incumbent John Morroni in the Aug. 26 universal primary, which will decide the winner of the District 6 County Commission seat.
Republicans and Democrats who live in the district can vote in this election.
District 6 stretches from east to west and along the beach and includes portions of Largo, St. Petersburg, Seminole and Pinellas Park, as well as St. Pete Beach, North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, Redington Sores, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island.
ST. PETERSBURG - The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will host a series of interactive telephone town hall meetings to share information and gather feedback about Pinellas County's transit future.
Residents from all over the county will receive automated calls inviting them to participate, and anyone can dial in to listen and make their voice heard. Participants will be able to ask questions, both on the call and through social media channels.
CLEARWATER - Flanked by other elected officials and Pinellas County technology experts, J. Thomas McGrady, chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, recently announced the implementation of a new $10-million court case management system that is more user-friendly and efficient than the old one.
The new software system, known as Odyssey, replaces CJIS, the acronym for the Consolidated Justice Information System, a mainframe system dating to the 70s whose technology eventually became obsolete, McGrady said. Odyssey went live over the weekend of July 11-14.
With Odyssey, the major players in the court system - including the State Attorney, the Public Defender, the Sheriff, and the Clerk of Courts - will all be using the same system to create, use and manage court files, in an arrangement that will increase efficiency and save taxpayer dollars.
TALLAHASSEE - The latest figures from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show Pinellas County’s unemployment numbers unchanged for June.
Preliminary not seasonally adjusted unemployment for the county was 6 percent - unchanged from the revised numbers for May. The preliminary report for May showed the county’s unemployment at 5.9 percent. The unemployment rate in June 2013 was 7.5 percent.
CLEARWATER - Veterans charged with certain crimes due to substance abuse or mental health issues are encouraged to take advantage of a special court designed exclusively for them.
It’s called Veterans Treatment Court, or VTC, and it functions in Pinellas and Pasco counties.
The aim of this special court is to help veterans deal with their current criminal charges and stop them from getting into further trouble. It also is designed to help with substance abuse or mental health issues that may have caused or contributed to their legal problems.
CLEARWATER - Pinellas County’s Small Quantity Generator Program has been honored as the 2014 SQG Program of the Year by the Florida chapter of the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association.
The SQG Program of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding or most improved Small Quantity Generator program in Florida over the past year. The Pinellas County program focuses on education and outreach, visiting businesses to inform them of their hazardous waste management regulatory requirements and verifying that they comply.
Team members also develop and provide tools and resources to assist businesses in meeting and maintaining compliance. Pinellas County’s program is the youngest of the 50 state programs. It is only in its sixth year of existence, compared to the typical 15 to 20 years that the others have been in place.
CLEARWATER - The National Association of Counties picked the Spending in the Sunshine website, created by the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, as a recipient of the 2014 Achievement Award in the category of Civic Education and Public Information.
Started in 1970, the annual Achievement Award Program is a non-competitive awards program that recognizes innovative county government programs in 21 different categories.
“It is very rewarding to have our financial transparency initiative be recognized in the community, as well as nationally,” said Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. “It was my goal to ultimately set an example of what constitutes open government and thanks to the talented staff of the Clerk’s office, this initiative is empowering citizens with every click of a button.”
CLEARWATER - A sense of optimism filled the fifth floor assembly room of the County Courthouse in Clearwater July 15 as Interim County Administrator Mark Woodard presented his budget proposal for fiscal year 2014-15.
Unlike past years, which left a feeling of gloom and doom, Woodard’s presentation was short and filled with positive news - including that there will be no millage increases for the general fund, unincorporated county or emergency medical services.