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First ballots mailed for St. Pete general election

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office on Friday said the first batch of ballots for St. Petersburg’s Nov. 7 general election are in the mail.

The office sent 3,962 postmarked ballots, but that total includes voters in the municipal elections set for Clearwater, Dunedin and Seminole as well as St. Pete.

The first wave is heading to the county’s absentee military voters, which includes all active-duty military, as well as their spouses and dependents who are living abroad.

Ballots also were shipped out to non-military Pinellas voters living outside the country.

The mass mailing comes a little over six weeks before voters decide whether to hang on to incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman or swap him out for Rick Baker, who served two terms as mayor in the 2000s.

Baker had been leading Kriseman in the polls for several weeks leading up the Aug. 29 primary, but when the final score was tallied the pair virtually tied. Just a tenth of a point separated the two Ricks, and Kriseman – not Baker – was the one who finished on top.

Also on the ballot are City Council seats:

— The District 4 race pits incumbent Councilwoman Darden Rice against Jerick Johnston, a 21-year-old business student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The other races don’t have an incumbent in the running.

— District 2 voters will decide whether Brandi Gabbard or Barclay Harless takes over for Jim Kennedy, while District 6 voters will pick between Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll to replace termed-out Karl Nurse.

Driscoll came in about 200 votes back from Bean in the primary, edging out third-place candidate Robert Blackmon by just four votes.

The supervisor’s office plans to mail ballots to about 259,000 domestic voters on Oct. 3, but said that date could shift a bit.

Florida law requires the ballots to be sent between 35 and 28 days before Election Day, meaning the last possible day they could be mailed is Oct. 10.

Mail ballots can still be sent out after that deadline if voters request them, but the deadline to join the vote-by-mail camp for this election is by the end of the business on Nov. 1, the supervisor’s office said.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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