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County commission candidates to speak at Wednesday’s Suncoast Tiger Bay virtual forum

Jaymi Butler



Suncoast Tiger Bay

Wednesday (Oct. 7)  at noon, The Suncoast Tiger Bay Club will hold a virtual forum featuring candidates running for Pinellas County Commissioner for Districts 1 and 3.

The candidates for District 1 at-large are:

  • Janet Long (D), the incumbent, who has served on the commission since 2012. Areas of interest include protecting the community from Covid-19, improving transportation and safeguarding the environment.
  • Larry Ahern (R), a former state representative who served Florida’s 66th district in northwestern Pinellas County from 2012 to 2018. His campaign issues include implementing term limits for elected officials and support for business owners and law enforcement officers. Ahern declined to attend Wednesday’s event. 

For District 3 at-large, the candidates are:

  • Charlie Justice (D), the incumbent who has served as a commissioner since 2012. His priorities include protecting the environment, support for education and issues surrounding poverty and human rights.
  • Tammy Vasquez (R), an entrepreneur who owns Bark Life Inc., a pet boarding, day care and grooming facility. Her interest areas include support for small businesses, term limits and funding for law enforcement officers and first responders. Vasquez declined to attend Wednesday’s event.

During the forum, Long and Justice will share their platforms and goals should they be re-elected. They’ll also participate in a question-and-answer session moderated by Catalyst Finance Editor Margie Manning. Ahern and Vasquez have been asked to provide statements to be shared with viewers.

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.

Future events

While Wednesday’s event will have a local focus, 10 Tiger Bay clubs across the state will be teaming up to to present a series of free online forums on the presidential race and proposed state constitutional amendments.

“These forums are a direct consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced so many in-person gatherings to the virtual world,” said Tampa Tiger Bay Club president Yvonne Fry. “The statewide forums are a logical extension of the virtual forums our club has been presenting for several months. You could say this is an unintended benefit of our new normal.”

The series kicks off Friday, Oct. 9 at noon with a panel discussion on Amendment 3, which would establish a top-two open primary system for primary elections for state legislators, governor and cabinet. Confirmed panelists are former congressman Jason Altmire, state senator and Republican party chairman Joe Gruters, Democratic party chairman Terri Rizzo and Glen Burhans, Jr. of voting advocacy group All Voters Vote

Upcoming events in the series:

  • Friday, Oct. 16 at noon; a panel discussion previewing the presidential election
  • Friday, Oct. 23 at noon; a panel discussion on Amendment 2, which would establish a $15 statewide minimum wage
  • Thursday, Nov. 12 at noon; an analysis of the Florida election

For more information on how to watch, visit Suncoast Tiger Bay’s Facebook page or website

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