Neil Brickfield, former county commissioner and current candidate for the Pinellas County Commission, tells SaintPetersBlog he will withdraw from the District 4 race effective today.
“My heart isn’t in this campaign,” Brickfield says in a statement released Wednesday morning. “These are words I never imagined I’d ever say but over the last few weeks of the campaign I have found myself consistently choosing my family and the Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League instead of campaigning.”
Brickfield, filed his candidacy February 2 with the supervisor of elections for the Pinellas County District 4 seat that covers his home of Safety Harbor and the North Pinellas communities of Dunedin, Palm Harbor, East Lake, Tarpon Springs, and Oldsmar.
“I have found the work with PAL, working with at risk children in one of Pinellas County’s toughest neighborhoods more rewarding than anything I’ve done in politics,” Brickfield adds. “I find working and helping these young people more fulfilling and more meaningful.”
“I got involved in politics to make a positive impact on the community. I do that every day at PAL.
District 4 has been represented since 2000 by Commissioner Susan Latvala, who announced earlier in the month her retirement at the end of her term.
“After lots of prayer and discussions with my family,” Brickfield says. “I have come to the conclusion that my heart is just not in campaigning. It reminds me of a fortune cookie that my brother got years ago, stop looking all over for happiness, it’s sitting right beside you.”
“Therefore I am withdrawing from this County Commission race.”
“I know almost everyone running for the Pinellas County Commission and Republicans have several outstanding candidates,”he concludes. “I’m looking forward to our new Republican County Commissioner and great days ahead for Pinellas!”
Brickfield was one of seven active Republican candidates for the seat, including Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers, as well as two Democrats — Jack McAdoo and Mark Weinkrantz — and Dustan Showers, who ran with No Party Affiliation.
Frist elected to the board in 2008, Brickfield represented the countywide District 1, which had an equal mix of registered Democrats and Republicans, whereas District 4 leans heavily Republican.
Democrat Janet Long defeated Brickfield in his 2012 re-election effort, running with a backdrop of fluoridation — which Brickfield opposed — as a significant campaign theme.
With Brickfield’s departure, fluoridation could fall from an issue in the 2014 election.
Another Republican in the competition is Johnny Johnson, a dentist from Palm Harbor, who was instrumental in the 2012 pro-fluoride fight.
Now that fluoride is most likely off the table, Greenlight Pinellas is poised to become the next critical issue in the District 4 race. Latvala was an avid supporter of the proposal to add a penny sales tax for bus service upgrades and building light rail.
However, any vocal supporter of Greenlight Pinellas could run into opposition in North Pinellas, where voters feel shorted in countywide transit plans.