St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Pinellas commission now full

Ken Welch, John Morroni and Bob Stewart win seats after fairly uneventful races.


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000

A year after voting to expand the Pinellas County Commission to seven members, voters rounded out the dais Tuesday by filling in the last three open seats.

In single-member District 7, Democrat Ken Welch defeated Republican Brent Fisher to become only the second African-American ever to be elected to the Pinellas County Commission. Fellow Democrat Calvin Harris was the first two years ago.

In single-member District 6, Republican and four-term legislator John Morroni thwarted a challenge by political newcomer Dave Buby, a Democrat who is a retired physician.

And incumbent Bob Stewart handily beat challenger Marcus Taylor, a write-in candidate who filed for the at-large District 3 seat July 21 and then disappeared from the campaign scene.

District 7, which includes the south half of St. Petersburg, Kenneth City, Gulfport and South Pasadena, was considered a minority-influenced district when it was drawn earlier this year. Nearly 20 percent of its registered voters are African-American.

But Welch, a Florida Power Corp. accountant, said he felt his message, rather than his race, put him over the top.

He also criticized what he called last-minute negative campaigning by his opponent.

"I think the citizens in this election looked at the content of my character and not the color of my skin," he said. "I think the voters are tired of negative politics. They responded to a positive campaign."

All three races were fairly uneventful, aside from the last-minute squabble in District 7.

Welch filed a complaint Friday with the Citizens for Fair Campaign Practices Committee, criticizing a flier sent out by Fisher. The flier said Welch favored a tax increase "to benefit Florida Power" and that his campaign was "funded by Florida Power and special interest money."

The committee, which has no real punitive powers, ruled that Fisher's flier included false and misleading statements.

Fisher said Tuesday night that he was not sure whether Welch's complaint had any effect on the outcome. But he said he knew he faced an uphill battle from the beginning. "When I started talking to people, they said, "You're crazy. It's designed to be a Democratic seat and a minority seat and those are two things you're not.' At the same time, my commitment to the community has always been foremost," Fisher said.

District 6 covers the north half of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Seminole and coastal communities from Redington Shores to St. Pete Beach. Morroni said he thought his legislative experience helped turn the race his way. Fixing Pinellas County's transportation ills and securing more state and federal money for the area are his top two priorities, Morroni said.

"I'm just ready to work hard for the constituents," he said. "I can't wait to see what I'm getting into."

Buby, who serves on several medical and social services boards, would not rule out another run for office. Morroni's term, as well as the District 4 seat, is up in two years.

"I'm just going to spend time doing volunteer work and seeing what happens in two years," Buby said. "I'll just have to wait and see."

Until now, the Pinellas County Commission consisted of five members who had to live in specific districts but were elected at-large, or by all the voters.

The switch to the new board began in November 1999, when voters narrowly approved expanding the commission and creating single-member districts. Under that plan, three of the commissioners would remain at-large while four would be elected only by the residents in the district they represent.

In the Sept. 5 primary, Karen Seel and Susan Latvala became the first two commissioners elected under the new system. Latvala was elected to represent single-member District 4, which includes Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, East Lake, Oldsmar, Dunedin, Safety Harbor and part of Clearwater.

Seel won the single-member District 5 seat, which covers most of Clearwater, Largo, Belleair, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

Also on the board are at-large commissioners Harris and Barbara Sheen Todd, who are up for re-election in 2002. Both Morroni's and Latvala's terms are two years to start with; they will revert to four-year terms after the 2002 elections.

Back to Election 2000
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Special Links
Tim Nickens
The Presidential race
Florida races
Pinellas races
Hillsborough races
Pasco races
Hernando races
Citrus races

From the Times election desk

  • Recount: Presidency hangs on Florida duel
  • Hour by hour, outcome gets more uncertain
  • State by state
  • Republicans make gains in skirmish for 83 seats
  • Uneasy mood in Austin flips as votes do
  • Voters swayed by economy, health care, education, Social Security
  • Too close to call in Florida but TV did -- regretfully
  • Presidential campaign lures people to polls
  • Fight for Congress: no clear-cut winner
  • Election 2000 in brief

  • State
  • Nelson takes Senate seat
  • Republican Crist well on path to victory
  • Incumbent Crow slightly ahead
  • Race turns into nail-biter
  • Byrd dominating in bid for third term
  • Farkas soundly beats Fischer
  • Foster breaks ahead, takes lead over Baldwin
  • Wallace jumps to early lead over his challenger
  • Henriquez holds strong lead
  • Cowin gains ground in home county
  • Incumbent strides ahead of newcomer
  • Justice leading Kersteen by a comfortable margin
  • Murman headed for second term
  • Newcomer battle ends with Republican Berfield as victor
  • Waters blocks Brennan challenge
  • Miller's hopes look to be affirmed
  • Miller overpowers former Democrat
  • Floridians keep right to elect judges
  • Crist has slight lead on Castor
  • Thurman keeps District 5 seat
  • Bilirakis has big lead in District 9
  • C.W. Bill Young winning handily
  • Bullet train heading for success
  • Davis wins third term
  • Putnam takes early lead
  • Incumbent Russell's win thinner than predicted
  • GOP Rep. Miller is likely victor
  • Floridians keep right to elect judges
  • Gallagher coasts to victory and his old job
  • Littlefield again defeats McLaughlin
  • Fasano, Fiorentino winning return trip
  • Election roundup
  • Briefly

  • Pinellas
  • Pinellas commission now full
  • One race won by landslide, another by a single vote
  • Lealman heads toward fire tax
  • Bobel, Dedman win approval
  • All changes to charter pass voters' muster
  • Peluso, Henry lead pack of 5 candidates

  • Hillsborough
  • Voters favor most amendments
  • Democrats bustle to get the vote out
  • Iorio builds her solid lead on record
  • Holt closing in on a third term
  • Term limits prevailing
  • Ober poised in attorney race
  • Republicans may reign in commission
  • Ake appears on his way to keep tenure unbroken
  • Results mixed on city amendments
  • Incumbent trails in four-way race
  • Two incumbents, Miller leading

  • Pasco
  • Altman holds slim lead
  • Challenger upsets incumbent Cannon
  • Second run is the charm for Schrader
  • Johnson captures Meadow Pointe post

  • Hernando
  • Bernardini bests longtime adversary
  • Sikes will succeed her sister upon retirement
  • Experienced teacher wins out over mom
  • Williams captures historic win
  • Early tally: Andrews first, Martin second, Hollander third
  • Democrats take over the board
  • Big ticket polls' big draw

  • Citrus
  • Activist Warren sails past Cooper
  • Council incumbents out; new mayor in
  • Schultz wins, will serve a final term ending in 2004
  • Hickey wins Citrus superintendent race
  • Bush is easy winner in the schoolhouse
  • Eager voters met with long lines
  • Candidate bounces out of hospital to ply voters

  • From the AP
    national wire
  • Bush Pledges Iraq Arms Hunt Will Continue
  • 'Partial Birth' Abortion Ban Passes House