SEMINOLE – After earning 57.6 percent of the votes during September’s primary election for Pinellas County’s Clerk of Court, Ken Burke is now preparing for the deciding contest in November.
He will square off against the Democratic candidate, Carolyn “Carrie” Wadlinger of Oldsmar.
“I was hoping for 51 percent of the votes, so I was pleasantly surprised,” said Burke with his characteristic good humor.
The candidate now works as vice president of the Seminole Title Company. Burke has a 21-year career as a legal administrator with DeLoach & Hofstra, P.A., a Seminole law firm.
But it is primarily his community contacts that he credits with getting him selected during the primary.
“It was heartwarming to have so many people I’ve known in the community vote for me,” Burke said. “Even people I knew from Little League lent me their support.”
It was friends telling friends and acquaintances about their experiences with Burke that made the difference. Personal recommendations like that are better references than any newspaper or television spot, said Burke.
In reviewing the voting data, Burke added that in his own residential area, more than 80 percent of voters selected him. Generally throughout the rest of the Seminole area, more than 70 percent did the same.
“That is just humbling,” Burke said. “I’m so grateful. There are so many kind people here.”
In fact, it was word of mouth that Burke said was his not-so-secret weapon. His years of community activities and schooling across the county have led him to many contacts. From St. Petersburg College and the Kiwanis Club to Catholic Charities and the Seminole Chamber, his roots are deep. For this work, Burke was crowned Mr. Seminole in 1999.
Now, Burke is hitting the campaign trail again, talking with a group of 200 Realtors one day and women’s organizations the next. After analyzing September’s voting demographics by district across the county, Burke spotted a trend that women tend to vote for other women when faced with unfamiliar candidates.
“I’ve got to work harder getting to know those groups and getting my message out clearer,” Burke said as he prepares for November’s general election.