This race, open to all District 6 voters, pits County Commission veteran John Morroni against Leonard Dramesi, an advocate of mobile home park protection.
Dramesi is no stranger to politics.
He was active in local Democratic circles in New Jersey before coming to Florida and served on the Gloucester Township, N.J., school board.
But in this race, he's the underdog. Dramesi registered to vote in Pinellas in July, the same week he filed as a candidate.
Morroni, a Republican, has a huge fundraising lead and voter registration in the district tilts toward the GOP.
The owner of two mobile homes in Pinellas, Dramesi has made mobile home park preservation his signature issue. He supports a moratorium on park conversions until a way is found to identify suitable - and affordable - housing for those displaced by bulldozers. "I just have to take a chance on reaching the people," Dramesi said, "and hope they will be galvanized enough to go out there and vote sensibly."
When he served as commission chairman in 2005, Morroni made it his job to meet with Pinellas mayors to smooth over sometimes rough relations with the cities. Morroni is proud to say he was able to meet with 22 out of 24.
If granted another four years, Morroni said he would work to trim waste from the county budget and continue efforts to improve transportation and create below market-rate housing.
Morroni defends the county's efforts to aid mobile home park residents facing displacement, but says Dramesi's moratorium idea is unfeasible because it would trample the right of property owners to sell their land to developers.
Dramesi has charged that Morroni, who enjoys the support of Pinellas' established network of Republican donors, is beholden to special interests.
"That's old and has been used against everybody," Morroni said. "I have been living here for 26 years; I'm going to raise money from people who know me."
Dramesi vs. Morroni is not the only County Commission race that will appear on the ballot. In District 2, voters countywide will see the name of incumbent Calvin Harris on their ballot along with a space for a write-in. Harris has token opposition from write-in candidate Brian E. Roche, the brother of Norm Roche, whom Harris beat in the primary. As a write-in candidate, Brian Roche's name will not appear on the ballot.
John Morroni, 51, moved to Florida from his native Chicago at age 25. He was elected to the County Commission in 2000; before that Morroni spent four terms as a state representative. He lives in Feather Sound with his wife and son. Assets: Home, investments, bonds. Liabilities: Mortgage, car payments. Source of income: Commission salary.
Leonard Dramesi, 72, spent the bulk of his professional career in New Jersey, where he was editor of several weekly newspapers. Active in area Democratic circles, Dramesi twice served on the Gloucester Township, N.J., school board, once in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. Dramesi is retired and moved to Florida in 1989. Assets: Mobile homes. Liabilities: Truck payment. Sources of income: Social Security, Veterans Affairs disability payments.
County commissioner, District 6
Only voters in District 6 elect this commissioner. The term is four years. County commissioners set a countywide property tax rate, oversee departments that provide a variety of government services, make land use decisions and set budgets for the sheriff, property appraiser, tax collector and supervisor of elections. They are paid $87,565 a year.
[Last modified November 3, 2006, 14:52:35]
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