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Two candidates join race for commission

Four people - two Democrats and two Republicans - are now in the race.

By EDIE GROSS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


The field of candidates for County Commission District 6 doubled in the last week as both a Republican and a Democrat entered the race.

Dr. David Buby, a Largo Democrat, and Ramona Updegraff, a Republican from Redington Beach, are both seeking the seat that represents Pinellas Park, Seminole, northern St. Petersburg and beach communities from Redington Shores south to St. Pete Beach.

The race for the single-member district seat also includes Democrat Tony Antonious of Indian Shores and Republican John Morroni, a state representative who is leaving the Legislature because of term limits.

Buby, who says he recently switched from the Republican to the Democratic party, is a retired doctor of osteopathic medicine who moved to Pinellas County from Michigan in 1988. He planned to spend most of his time fishing, but instead ended up volunteering for a host of social service projects.

"I've gotten a lot from the community in the past, so I like to give back," he said.

Buby, 62, has served for the last seven years on the Department of Children and Families' Health and Human Services Board, and he works with a Children and Families committee that encourages preventive care for adults with cystic fibrosis.

He helped found the Suncoast AIDS Network. He is also chairman of For AIDS Care Today, an organization that helps AIDS patients afford medication.

Buby, who lost a 4-year-old granddaughter 10 years ago in a swimming pool accident, said the county needs to do all it can to prevent children from drowning.

Another focus will be what he calls his pet peeve: unfunded mandates from Tallahassee. Spending money on state-mandated projects takes funds away from worthwhile local causes, Buby said.

"More and more, the legislators are putting more of the responsibility onto the county," he said. "If the state keeps pushing programs through and pushing (the funding) down to the local level, we're going to have to keep juggling funds."

Buby, who is divorced, has two grown children and three grandsons.

Updegraff, 70, was the mayor of Redington Beach from 1986 to 1990. Before that, she served as a town commissioner, overseeing the finance department, for 18 months.

A Pinellas County native and permanent beach resident since 1981, Updegraff said she is especially interested in preserving the environment and the region's water supply. She served on the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Pinellas-Anclote Basin Board from 1992 to 1999 and said she is intimately familiar with the region's water wars.

"I really got into all water issues: water quality, water quantity," she said. "I want everybody to keep negotiating and working through it because this is what's going to save our county."

Updegraff has been plenty busy since leaving office in Redington Beach. She has served on the boards of the YWCA, American Red Cross, Gulf Beaches Library and Florida Power's Consumer Advisory Board. She also has been a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, a Girl Scout leader and a member of the Audubon Society and Florida Beaches and Shores Association.

Updegraff has four children, including Stephen Updegraff, a well-known LASIK eye surgeon who holds several patents on the laser surgery process. She and her husband of 46 years, Dr. Ambrose Updegraff, have 10 grandchildren.

Her family's ties to the community and her civic involvement have given her an insight into what is best for Pinellas County, she said.

"I have the knowledge, I have the experience and I certainly have the time to do this," she said.

The primary election is Sept. 5. The general election is Nov. 7.

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