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Commissioners receive statewide recognition
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CLEARWATER - Pinellas County Commissioner Chair Karen Williams Seel and Vice-chair Susan Latvala were honored by the Florida Association of Counties at its 2014 annual Conference and Exposition in Orange County this June.

Both commissioners received awards for their individual outstanding efforts as leaders in the community.

Seel received the Presidential Advocacy Award which is given annually to county commissioners from around the state who have shown exceptional leadership in partnering with the Florida Association of Counties to advance the counties’ legislative agenda. She was an invaluable asset to the Association this year as it launched its new federal advocacy program.

As a result of Seel’s advocacy, Florida’s flood insurance story was told and Congress ultimately passed legislation that will help many Floridians who were financially impacted by the old law. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 21, 2014.

“I am honored to be chosen as a recipient of the Presidential Advocacy Award,” Seel said. “As a voice for the citizens of Pinellas County, it is a top priority to maintain affordable and accessible flood insurance for homeowners. I am proud to have been a part of the efforts to express to Congress why flood insurance reform was desperately needed and am pleased with the successful outcome.”

“It is public servants like Commissioner Seel that ensure our local communities have the authority to respond to the demands of their citizens,” said Florida Association of Counties Executive Director Chris Holley. “Commissioner Seel’s willingness to advocate for counties on every level was essential to passing this important legislation.”

Latvala was awarded the Marlene Young Presidential Advocacy Award for her commitment throughout her career to protect home rule and serve Florida’s counties as a leader and an advocate. This prestigious award, named after the late Marlene Young who served as a commissioner for Polk County, is presented to the county elected official who has shown extraordinary leadership and commitment to the mission of the Association.

“I am truly humbled by this award and recognition,” said Latvala. “It has been incredibly rewarding to work with commissioners from across our state on important issues that affect the daily lives of our citizens.”

“Florida Association of Counties and Pinellas County are privileged to have such a dedicated public servant that recognizes many decisions affecting citizens are made in Tallahassee,” said Holley. “Commissioner Latvala has been someone we could call on no matter the issue, no matter the time of year, she has always been willing to step up and help not just her own county but all of Florida’s 67 counties.”

Throughout her 14-year career on the Board of County Commissioners, Latvala has been a leader in the Association, serving as president from 2006 through 2007 while also chairing various policy committees. She has been committed to serving Florida’s counties in any capacity where she was needed.

Florida Association of Counties has represented the diverse interests of Florida’s counties for 85 years emphasizing the importance of protecting home rule, the concept that communities and their local leaders should make the decisions that affect their community. The Association helps counties effectively serve and represent Floridians by strengthening and preserving county home rule through advocacy, education and collaboration.
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