Eileen Long takes District 4, runoffs in two other Pinellas school races

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Schoolteacher Eileen Long easily defeated incumbent Ken Peluso for the District 4 seat on the Pinellas County School Board.

Long polled about 51 percent of the vote. District 4 covers the northernmost section of Pinellas County including East Lake, Tarpon Springs and Palm Harbor.

With no one in the other School Board races drawing 50 percent plus one vote, the two leaders in the field will move on to runoffs in the Nov. 8 general election.

In the District 1 At-Large race, voted countywide, retired teacher Joanne Lentino, with about 32.4 percent of the vote, was the leader in the four-candidate field.

Matt Stewart, a deputy director for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College, was in second place with about 30.3 percent. Former St. Petersburg council member Bill Dudley was in third place with about 29.1 percent. Robert J. Beal, who had announced he would not run a vigorous campaign, trailed the field with about 8.2 percent of the vote.

Lentino and Stewart will go to the runoff.

In the District 5 race, incumbent Carol Cook outdistanced her challengers with about 48.3 percent of the vote. Coming in second place was first-time candidate Eliseo Santana, a former communication maintenance supervisor with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Santana got about 26.5 percent of the vote. Close behind was Mike Petruccelli with about 25.3 percent of the vote. Petruccelli is a real estate broker/insurance agent who serves on the Indian Shores Town Council.

District 5 covers parts of central Pinellas, including portions of Clearwater and Largo.

Cook and Santana will go into the runoff.

In making it to a runoff, Cook bucked an anti-incumbent bias that dogged both her and Peluso on the campaign trail. Teachers, parents and others were angered by news stories about the poor quality of Pinellas schools, particularly five majority-black schools in St. Petersburg