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District 6 Pinellas County Commission

An experienced lawmaker and a political newcomer are vying for the County Commission's geographically diverse District 6 seat.

By EDIE GROSS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Both Republican John Morroni and Democrat Dave Buby defeated opponents in the Sept. 5 primary in their quest to nab the post that represents coastal communities from Redington Shores to St. Pete Beach, the large unincorporated community around Seminole and the cities of Seminole, Pinellas Park and north St. Petersburg.

Morroni is best known for his four terms in the Florida House, a run that ended this year because of term limits. His fundraising activities reflect his statewide contacts, attracting contributions from political action committees and special interests from Miami to Tallahassee.

His opponent in the primary criticized him for accepting so much money from outside Pinellas County, but Morroni has insisted that his interests are local. Since the legislative session ended in May, most of his contributions have come from local folks, Morroni said.

Solving Pinellas County's transportation problems should be the top priority, he said. The county does not need a moratorium on development, but officials need to control growth and encourage more redevelopment.

The county also needs to find alternative sources of drinking water, said Morroni, who is hoping his experience in the Legislature will catapult him onto the commission.

"I let people know that I'm a candidate with a vision," he said. "I'm somebody they know and feel comfortable with."

Buby, a retired doctor who is making his first run for political office, has pored through county budgets to make sure that social services and medical programs for the indigent are properly funded.

He also believes the county needs to find new sources of drinking water, but wants Tampa Bay Water to investigate the environmental effects of operating a desalination plant before building the structure. He supports vehicle emissions testing, something legislators, including Morroni, voted to end in May.

He said he decided to run for office after becoming fed up with legislators in Tallahassee handing down mandates without providing money to pay for them.

"This is my first attempt at politics. I'm basically a caregiver," Buby said during a candidates forum in early October.

"I've decided to run this time to say to politicians in Tallahassee, "If you're going to tell us what to do, fund it so we on the County Commission don't have to spend local tax dollars."'

THE JOB

The single-member District 6 county commissioner will serve a two-year term this time so that elections for districts will be staggered in future years. This commissioner is elected by residents of the district, which covers Seminole, Pinellas Park, the north half of St. Petersburg and beach communities between St. Pete Beach and Redington Shores. Commissioners earn $74,249 a year.

REPUBLICAN

JOHN MORRONI, 45, has served in the Florida House of Representatives for eight years. A resident of Clearwater for 13 years, Morroni moved to Feather Sound shortly after the 2000 legislative session ended. While in the House, he served as chairman of the Regulated Services Committee, which regulates alcohol, tobacco and parimutuel enterprises. He is a member of the Clearwater Jaycees and the Clearwater Board of Realtors. A graduate of Loyola University, Morroni is married with one son. ASSETS: two time shares, money market fund, savings bonds. LIABILITIES: car leases, credit cards. SOURCE OF INCOME: job as real estate agent.

DEMOCRAT

DAVID BUBY, 62, is a retired doctor of osteopathic medicine who moved to Pinellas County from Michigan in 1988. He switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party shortly before beginning his campaign for the County Commission. He has served for the past 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 also helped found the Suncoast AIDS Network and is chairman of For AIDS Care Today, an organization that helps AIDS patients afford medication. Buby lives in Largo and is divorced with two grown children. ASSETS: car. LIABILITIES: car loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: Social Security and disability.

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