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Shelby won't run for county position
By ERIC STIRGUS
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 22, 2000
LARGO -- City Commissioner Marty Shelby has decided not to run for Pinellas supervisor of elections, saying he wants to devote his attention to major city issues such as downtown redevelopment and the search for a new police chief.
Shelby announced his intentions to seek the post two days after it was reported that longtime Elections Supervisor Dorothy "Dot" Ruggles was in failing health and would resign. He said that although he was criticized by some for the timing of his announcement, it was not a factor in his decisionnot to run. Ruggles died May 16, a day after Shelby declared his candidacy.
He did say Gov. Jeb Bush's appointment of Deborah Clark on May 30 as interim supervisor of elections affected his decision to drop out of the race.
"The decision was made considerably easier once I wasn't appointed," Shelby said Wednesday.
Shelby, 43, an attorney who runs an ethics consulting firm, said he wanted to concentrate on city concerns such as the sale of the former Police Department headquarters and City Hall, the widening of West Bay Drive and community policing.
"I would be very hard-pressed to run a county race and fulfill my obligations," he said.
Shelby, a Republican whose seat on the Largo commission is up for election next year, said he plans to run for a third term. City races are non-partisan.
Elected to the City Commission in 1995, Shelby has a reputation for inciting debate with thought-provoking questions. That approach has gotten Shelby into some dicey moments, such as the brief but explosive exchanges last year between him and then-Mayor Thomas Feaster.
"I think he's a deep thinker and he's got that legal mind to figure out how things can be done," said Vice Mayor Jean Halvorsen.
Mayor Bob Jackson said he was glad to hear Shelby had changed his mind.
"I think we need him in Largo," Jackson said. "We need the experience he brings. I think he does a good job and I think the community looks to him for leadership."
The lone remaining Republican challenger to Clark is Patricia "Pat" Baker, a local businesswoman and a Republican state committeewoman.
Paul Bedinghaus, head of the county's Republican Party, said Shelby's departure from the race removes concerns of a runoff in the Sept. 5 primary.
Information from Times files was used in this report.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.