No surprises in St. Pete City Council election, but in Largo…

Is it too soon to think about the 2013 election?

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District 1 - This race was the only contest that had a primary election, and in both cases, Democrat Charlie Gerdes took the majority of the vote. Gerdes beat out former GOP St. Pete Councilman Bob Kersteen by a 56 to 44 percent margin, actually the closest of the three races where there was a legitimate contest.

As we learned on the campaign trail, Kersteen's conservative brand of politics was considered somewhat outdated in this city-wide election, and there were those who didn't think he was all that effective in his first term in office.

The 55-year-old Gerdes impressed throughout the campaign. He is well known and liked in the community, and other than some embarrassing revelations that were unearthed regarding his failure to pay his taxes a few year ago, had a relatively smooth ride all the way through, going back to the August primary.

District 3- Brent Hatley was an interesting and somewhat exciting new candidate whose main issue was his anger against red-light cameras. There were some in St. Pete who thought he might be able to bottle the popular opposition to the cameras, but alas, that did not pan out in the end. Dudley took an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote to Hatley's 31 percent.

Hatley was extremely deferential to the man they call "coach," and who was in fact his Drivers Ed teacher in high school. Dudley's wife was Hatley's history teacher. That made for a warm camaraderie on the campaign trail, but Hatley didn't give voters any real reason to vote against the status quo.

District 5- No politician is universally loved, and if Steve Kornell didn't know that before tonight, he does now. Running against "New Election," after his ersatz opponent Bill Protz dropped out of the race (after only getting in the race to qualify in the last hour), Kornell took home 76 percent of the vote with 15,360 votes.

But 4,797 people voted against Kornell and for New Election. No matter. Kornell's in for another four years. He has a lot of ideas that he says he's ready to delve into, and that should be interesting to observe.

District 7 -There were some thoughts that this contest could be competitive, that Gershom Faulkner could prove to be a giant killer who could slay a vulnerable Wengay Newton.

But Faulkner wasn't up to the task. In a rematch of their 2007 election, Newton destroyed his nemesis,
66 to 34 percent.

Is it too soon to think of 2013, when Bill Foster faces re-election, and there is the possibility of a Darden Rice- David McKalip battle for the District 4 seat. After an unusually mellow campaign, it's back to governing for the new board.

  • Michael Smith

Perhaps one reason why there wasn't more excitement about this fall's City Council elections that culminated tonight in St. Petersburg is the fact that none of the three competitive races on the ballot were, well, actually competitive.

But first, let's look at another Pinellas County election, this one in Largo, where Michael Smith defeated long-time incumbent Mary Gray Smith Black for a City Commission seat, winning 54 to 46 percent.

An openly gay man, the 30-year old Smith defeated Black, a 72-year-old administrator, who was first elected to the Largo City Commission in 1975. Largo, you might remember, was the community that didn't exactly show the love when Steve Stanton became Susan Stanton a few years back.

Meanwhile, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Charlie Gerdes, Bill Dudley and Wengay Newton all won easily, as they were predicted to do. Steve Kornell won as well, against a non-person.

There were a number of extremely unsexy referendum questions on the ballot that didn't help turnout, which was 12 percent, lackluster for sure, but higher than the last off-year election in St. Pete that didn't have a mayoral race to contend with.

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