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County commission candidates Justice and Long speak at Suncoast Tiger Bay virtual forum [Video]

Jaymi Butler

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The virtual Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting was held Oct. 7 and featured a panel discussion with two of the four candidates running for seats on the Pinellas County Commission. Appearing at the forum were:

  • Janet Long (D), the District 1 at-large incumbent, who has served on the commission since 2012. Her focus areas are affordable housing, transportation and environmental issues including climate change. 
  • Charlie Justice (D), the District 3 at-large incumbent who has also served as a commissioner since 2012. His areas of interest include the environment, education and human rights issues, support for local businesses, housing and transportation. 

Long’s opponent, Larry Ahern (R), a former state representative who served Florida’s 66th district in northwestern Pinellas County from 2010 to 2018, declined to attend the event but shared a statement outlining his platform. He supports term limits, initiatives promoting self sufficiency, fiscally responsible transportation solutions and support for business owners.

Justice’s opponent, Tammy Vasquez (R), an entrepreneur who owns Bark Life Inc., a pet boarding, day care and grooming facility, declined to attend the forum and did not provide a statement. 

Following the introductions, Catalyst Finance Editor Margie Manning moderated a discussion between Long and Justice. The candidates answered questions on how they define leadership, their thoughts on government budgets and the use of Penny for Pinellas funds and their visions for transportation in Pinellas.

They also answered audience questions about their positions on protecting the Douglas Property in Dunedin, what the commission has done to support mental health issues, where they see Pinellas in five years, what they think is at stake in this election, their views on term limits, their thoughts on regionalism and their strategies on reaching out to people with different viewpoints.

The next Tiger Bay event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 14 and will feature the two candidates for Pinellas County Sheriff, incumbent Bob Gualtieri (R) and challenger Eliseo Santana (D). The event is free of charge for Tiger Bay members and $5 for non-members, though organizers encourage donating the $25 price of the regular lunch meeting. Money raised goes to support continuing programming and support for the Young Tigers Scholarship Program.

A link to the Zoom video will be sent via email the day before the event and the day of the event. The registration deadline is Wednesday at 11 a.m. To sign up, click here. 

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