Pinellas announces new polling places for March 17 elections

Tuesday, March 17, elections will go on as scheduled with a few changes due to the coronavirus.

Pinellas County’s presidential preference primaries and municipal elections will go on as scheduled on March 17; however, registered voters should note that some polling places have changed.

In addition, hundreds of poll workers have resigned due to the threat of the coronavirus and other reasons. About 100 Pinellas County government employees have been assigned to work at Tuesday’s polling places. Emergency poll worker training courses have been scheduled.

Voters are advised to be prepared for new poll workers on Election Day. Those planning to go to the polls on Tuesday are asked to visit https://www.votepinellas.com/Election-Information/Elections/Current-Upcoming-Elections1/2020-March-Municipal-Elections/Corona-Virus-Response.

For a list of emergency polling places changes, visit

https://www.votepinellas.com/Election-Information/Elections/Current-Upcoming-Elections1/2020-March-Municipal-Elections/Coronavirus-Polling-Place-Changes.

Registered voters have until 7 p.m. March 17 to make their choices known in the 2020 presidential preference primary. In addition, voters from 12 municipalities are picking their future leaders and some are being asked to approve charter amendments.

Polls will open a 7 a.m.

Florida is a closed primary state, so only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary and only registered Democrats can cast a ballot in the Democratic primary.

As of 4:20 p.m. March 16, 141,778 ballots had been accounted for at a Supervisor of Elections office, including 134,009 mail ballots and 7,769 ballots cast during in early voting, which ended on Sunday.

All mail ballots must be returned to an elections office by 7 p.m. March 17. Mail ballot pickup and voting in Elections offices on Election Day is only permitted in the case of an emergency.

For more information, including election offices, mail ballot drop off locations and poll locations, visit votepinellas.com or call 727-464-VOTE (8683).

Presidential candidates

The presidential preference primary election is part of the nominating process. After the primary, party delegates will formally nominate their party’s preferred candidate at the national convention, at which time the party will decide on a candidate to appear on the general election ballot.

President Donald Trump has three challengers on the primary ballot, which is costing the county $125,000 more in election expenses this year. The county commission approved moving the money from reserves Feb. 11 to pay for the unexpected Republican primary.

Trump’s challengers include Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, who ran for president in 2016 as a Reform party candidate; and Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, who ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 2016.

The third challenger, Joe Walsh, a former U.S. Representative, ended his campaign Feb. 7 after the Iowa caucuses.

Democrats have 16 names to choose from, although 13 have dropped out of the race. As of March 8, only three candidates still had active campaigns: former Vice President Joe Biden, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet dropped out Feb. 11, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker ended his campaign Jan. 13 and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro dropped out Jan. 2.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney called it quits Jan. 31 and former governor of Massachusetts and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick ended his campaign Feb. 12.

Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak dropped out Dec. 1; Marianne Williamson, author, activist and spiritual leader from California, ended her campaign on Jan. 10; and Andrew Yang, a New York entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, lawyer and political commentator, dropped out Feb. 12.

Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund manager, philanthropist, environmentalist and liberal activist left the campaign trail Feb. 29 and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg announced he was leaving the race on March 1.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar pulled the plug on her campaign March 2 and businessman and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who called it quits on March 4. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped out March 5.

Municipal elections

Clearwater voters will be picking a new mayor since the incumbent George Cretekos is out due to term limits. Candidates include Elizabeth “Sea Turtle” Drayer, former mayor Frank Hibbard, former city council member Bill Jonson and Morton Myers.

Seat 2 councilmember Jay Polglaze also is leaving due to term limits. Five candidates are running to replace him, including Mark Bunker, Michael “Mike” Mannino, Bruce Rector, Eliseo Santana Jr. and Lina Teixeira.

Seat 3 incumbent Robert Cundiff is being challenged by Kathleen Beckman, Bud Elias and Scott R. Thomas. Clearwater voters also will be asked to decide on six referendum questions.

In Gulfport, voters have only one race to decide. Incumbent Dan Liedtke is being challenged by April Thanos for the Ward 1 council member seat.

Kenneth City voters will pick two out of four names on the ballot for two council member seats. The candidates are Paul Asche, Bonnie A. Noble, William J. Rosemiller and Megan Zemaitis.

In Madeira Beach, current mayor Maggi Black’s term expires in March and she is not seeking reelection. John B. Hendricks and Gary L. Hughes are running to take her place. Incumbent Deby Weinstein is running to serve another term as District 1 commissioner. She is being challenged by Helen “Happy” Price.

Voters in Oldsmar are participating in a special election to fill a vacant seat on the council. Chris Bohr, Andrew Knapp and Kelly O’Brien are all vying for Seat 3. Voters also have two ballot questions to answer.

In Pinellas Park, incumbent Rick Butler is being challenged by Connie Bruce for Seat 3 on the City Council.

In Redington Shores, voters will be asked to pick between incumbent Thomas W. Kapper and challenger Jennie Blackburn to serve as District 1 commissioner.

Safety Harbor voters will pick a mayor and a commissioner. Incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub is being challenged by Tanja Vidovic and incumbent Carlos Diaz has two challengers for Seat 4 on the Commission, John Patrick Estok and David Roth.

South Pasadena voters have 10 charter amendments to consider.

In St. Pete Beach, voters will decide between incumbent Terri Finnerty and Christopher Graus to serve as commissioner representing District 1.

Tarpon Springs voters will choose between challenger Susan Hales and incumbent Jacob Karr for Seat 1 commissioner.

In Treasure Island, voters will choose a replacement for District 4 commissioner Heidi Horak, whose term expires in March. Richard D. Harris and Maribeth L. Wetzel are vying for the job.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.