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Unofficial vote counts tabulated in Pinellas
Mail ballots prove most popular with local residents for Aug. 26 elections
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Incumbent John Morroni received 66 percent against challenger Tom Rask with 34 percent for County Commissioner District 6. Morroni will keep his seat another term.
Ed Hooper was up on top by 64 percent against incumbent Norm Roche for County Commissioner District 2. Hooper will take on Democrat Pat Gerard, currently Largo’s mayor, in the Nov. 4 election.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers took in the most votes with 30 percent for County Commissioner District 4. Eggers will compete against Democrat Mark Weinkrantz of Palm Harbor Nov. 4.
Pinellas County voters made their choices in primary and nonpartisan elections Aug. 26. And they participated in a countywide referendum.

Mail ballots were the most popular method of voting, with 114,365 returned as of 9:10 p.m. Election Day, according to new real-time voter-turnout statistics posted on the Supervisor of Elections website. Another 32,880 had voted at one of 224 polling places. Only 1,856 participated in the nine-day early voting period, which ended Aug. 24.

According to statistics from the Elections Office, there were 617,925 voters registered to participate in the Aug. 26 elections, including 219,538 registered Republicans in Pinellas, 223,751 Democrats and 174,636 registered as other than one of the two major political parties.

Unofficial voter turnout was 23.95 percent. The highest voter turnout reported since 1994 was 28.16 percent in 2008.

The majority of votes were tabulated by about 8 p.m. But problems with phone lines at eight polling places delayed the rest of the count.

According to Nancy Whitlock, Elections Administrator, "If there's static on the line or the landline's not working at the poll place, then they just decide just to drive them (to another precinct). They have stations where they're going to be dropping off the modem anyway, and that's usually where they drive them."

Six were able to transmit from an alternate location but two had to drive to the Elections Office to turn in their ballots. Another 1,700 mail ballots still were waiting to be counted.

The following unofficial voting results were posted at at 9 p.m. with all 229 precincts reporting. Totals include partial counts of mail ballots. The deadline for the county‘s Canvassing Board to report official results to the state is Sept. 2.

Nonpartisan elections and referendum question

Voters said yes by more than 63 percent to the referendum question for a countywide tax exemption for qualified businesses.

“The economic ad valorem tax exemption legislation allows Pinellas County to encourage job creation and capital investment by new and expanding businesses and be competitive in regional and statewide economic development efforts,” said Economic Development Director Mike Meidel.

The yes vote will allow County Commissioners to grant ad valorem tax exemptions to new businesses and existing businesses that want to expand.

All registered voters were eligible to vote in nonpartisan elections for Sixth Circuit judge positions and school board seats.

Susan St. John was ahead of Laura Snell with nearly 69 percent of the vote for circuit judge, Group 1.

Alicia Polk took the lead with 51 percent of the vote against Ken Lark with 31 percent and Alan Scott Rosenthal with 18 percent for circuit judge Group 2.

Kimberly “Kim Sharpe” garnered the most votes, 53 percent, against Brian Battaglia for circuit judge, Group 16.

Phil Matthey had 55 percent of the vote to Amanda Colon’s 45 percent for Group 21. Bruce Boyer had a large lead, 72 percent, against Jon Newlon for Group 35.

In the race for school board, District 2 at-large position, all voters, regardless of political affiliation, were eligible to pick between incumbent Terry B. Krassner and Chris Tauchnitz. Krassner received 71 percent of the vote to keep his seat.

Incumbent Peggy O’Shea took in 65 percent of the vote against challenger Ken Curtis for the at-large District 3 seat.

In the two single-member school board races, only those living within the district were eligible to vote. Ken Peluso had 48 percent of the vote, followed by Beverley Billiris with 29 percent and John H. Nygren with 13 percent for the District 4 seat. Since no candidate received 50 percent of the vote, Peluso and Billiris will square off in a run-off election Nov. 4.

Incumbent Linda Lerner garnered 55 percent of votes against Maureen Ahern for the single-member District 6 position.

Universal primary

Republicans and Democrats that live in the county’s District 6 were eligible to vote in the Aug. 26 universal primary. Incumbent John Morroni received 66 percent against challenger Tom Rask with 34 percent. Morroni will keep his seat another term.

Republican primary

Republicans voted for their choice in the race for Pinellas County Commissioner District 2 – at large. Former state representative Ed Hooper was up on top by 64 percent against incumbent Norm Roche. Hooper will take on Democrat Pat Gerard, currently Largo’s mayor, in the Nov. 4 election.

Seven names were on the ballot for the District 4 single member seat, currently held by longtime commissioner Susan Latvala.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers took in the most votes with 30 percent. Peter Nehr was in second with 22 percent, followed by Johnny Johnson with 22 percent, Jim Ronecker with 11 percent, Wanda Kimsey with 7 percent, Macho Liberti with 5 percent, and Tim Keffalas with 3 percent.

Eggers will compete against Democrat Mark Weinkrantz of Palm Harbor Nov. 4.

Registered Republicans chose incumbent Rick Scott with 84 percent of the vote against challengers Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder. Scott also was ahead statewide with nearly 88 percent of the vote. He will square off against Democrat Charlie Crist in November.

In the race for state senator District 20, Pinellas Republicans picked incumbent Jack Latvala by 87 percent against challenger and Zahid Roy.

In the races for state representative, registered Republicans chose Chris Sprowls with 65 percent of the vote against Debbie Faulkner for District 65. Republican Chris Latvala was leading with 67 percent of the vote against Christopher Shepard for state representative for District 67. Bill Young took in 80 percent against Joshua Black for state representative in District 68.

District 64 also was on the Republican primary ballot; however, a Circuit Judge in Leon County disqualified the write-in candidate in that race. Votes cast during the Aug. 26 primary were not counted. James Grant and Miriam Steinberg will vie for the District 64 seat during the universal primary Nov. 4.

Democratic primary

Registered Democrats picked former governor Charlie Crist with 80 percent of the vote against challenger Nan H. Rich for their candidate to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. Crist also was in the lead statewide with 74 percent of the vote.

Democrats chose George Sheldon with 72 percent of the vote against Perry E. Thurston to run for attorney general in November. Sheldon was the favorite statewide with 61 percent of the vote.

The final choice in the Democratic primary was for a candidate in the District 67 race for state representative. Steve Sarnoff received 46 percent, followed by Shawna Vercher with 29 percent and Thomas D. Ryan with 26 percent. Sarnoff will face Chris Latvala in November.

Juliana A. Torres contributed to this report.

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