In first campaign commercial, Charlie Justice goes “positive”

Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice provided a sneak peek at his first commercial on Friday.

The 30-second spot, titled “Born Here,” shows Justice, his wife and daughters on the beach, wading in the water, tossing a disc and walking hand-in-hand on the sand. Shots of Justice at work during a commission meeting are interspersed on top of the beach scenes.

The ad, Justice said, goes against the trend of many other campaigns that are sending “negative” messages by going “positive” instead.

The ad says in part:

“I’m Charlie Justice. I was born here, loved growing up here. I never wanted to leave.”

Justice, who’s the current chairman of the commission, explains, “I love this job for a reason. Actually, two reasons, my two young daughters.

“You see, when they grow up, I hope they feel the same way I do and want to call Pinellas County home, too. That will only happen if we leave Pinellas County better than what was left for us. That’s important work. That’s why I’m asking for your vote.”

Justice, a Democrat, is seeking his second term on the commission. He formerly served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000-2006 and the state Senate from 2006 to 2010. He was elected to the commission in 2012.

He’s facing a challenge from retired businessman Mike Mikurak, who’s running for the first time. Mikurak, a Republican, has been running a campaign based on the theme that a businessman is needed in the government.

They’re running for the District 3 At-Large seat, which is voted on countywide. The election is Nov. 8.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Clearwater Chamber announces local endorsements; virtual tie between Charlie Justice, Mike Mikurak

clearwater-regional-chamber-of-commerceClearwater’s Chamber of Commerce announced endorsements in several local races, and a virtual tie between two equally qualified candidates for a Pinellas County Commission seat.

In a statement Friday, CLEARPAC, the committee for the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber’s board of directors, made recommendations based on “the importance of Election Day to the continuing success of local business.”

CLEARPAC is endorsing Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala for re-election to Senate District 20, as well as Republican State Reps. Chris Sprowls (House District 65), Larry Ahern (HD 66), Chris Latvala (HD 67) and Kathleen Peters (HD 69).

For the Pinellas County School Board, the group is also backing Matthew Stewart in District 1 and Carol Cook in District 5.

As for the tie, CLEARPAC said that in the race for Pinellas County Commission District 3, both candidates were qualified. Incumbent Democrat Charlie Justice “has consistently stood up for the business community,” whereas Republican challenger Mike Mikurak has “an extensive business background and a keen understanding of the challenges that businesses both large and small face.”

With that race, voters are on their own; CLEARPAC suggests further research on both candidates in the District 3 race.

A retired businessman, Mikurak is a founding partner of Accenture, a global consulting firm specializing in strategy and technology. The New Jersey native is making his first run for public office, facing Justice for the at-large District 3 seat.

“CLEARPAC is pleased to support the above slate of candidates who best understand the importance of maintaining a pro-business environment and who are willing to collaborate in order to advance public policy that allows our businesses to prosper, grow and create new jobs,” said CLEARPAC chair Judy Mitchell.

Founded in 1922, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce has become the voice of business in the Clearwater region, representing more than 1,000 member businesses. Since then, The CRCC has become 1 of the largest chambers in the Tampa Bay region.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Pinellas Commission to form sewer, wastewater task force

Pinellas County commissioners agreed Wednesday to form a countywide task force to work together on sewer and stormwater management issues.

The panel would be comprised of Pinellas County, 13 municipalities that have their own sewer systems, and three private systems.

“I believe the coming together of our partners can lay the groundwork for better reaction to emergencies, improving our infrastructure, and ultimately providing better services for our citizens,” Commissioner Charlie Justice wrote in a memo proposing the task force.

It is the second proposal for representatives from area governments to meet to discuss what’s needed to remedy Pinellas’ aging infrastructure.

Last week, state Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Kathleen Peters called for the Pinellas legislative delegation to meet with county and municipal representatives to discuss possible solutions. The delegation is scheduled to meet Tuesday.

“Storm events over the last year have exposed ailing infrastructure needs across Pinellas County, given the number of sewer dumps by a majority of municipalities and the county,” Peters wrote in a letter asking for the meeting. “The problem is something that has been neglected for quite some time and I believe to be at a critical point for our entire county, putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk, as well as leaving lasting damage to our environment.”

Peters said she is hoping for two outcomes from the delegation meeting. The first would be an indication from the cities that they will actively look for ways to fix their systems and get on the road to doing it.

The other, she said, is to find out from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection exactly what the delegation and the state can do to help matters. The state can give loans, she said, but if legislation or another action is needed, delegation members need to know that. And cities need to hear what the state is allowed to do, she said.

Justice and Peters were reacting in part to flooding resulting from the massive rains dumped on Pinellas with the passing in the Gulf of Hurricane Hermine. The rains overwhelmed wastewater treatment plants, resulting in the dumping of partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay.

A report from the DEP indicates the county dumped about 29 million total gallons, along with St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, St. Pete Beach, Clearwater, Largo, and others.

Raw and partially treated water went into Boca Ciega Bay, Lake Seminole, Joe’s Creek, and irrigation canals, among other places.

It could have been worse, said Bill Breckinridge, assistant county administrator. The county, he said, brought in pumper trucks and managed to keep and additional 15.6 million gallons from overflowing.

Breckinridge said the problem is generally two-fold — the capacity to hold large amounts of water and the influx of rainwater into the sewage system because of aging pipes and simple seepage through manhole covers.

The county, St. Petersburg, Largo, and other cities have earmarked millions to repair and replace worn-out systems.

But, as County Administrator Mark Woodard said, “Looking at the problem in isolation will not solve the problem.”

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Charlie Justice schedules Sept. 28 fundraiser

With the general election a bit more than eight weeks away, fundraising season is in full swing.

Charlie_Justice_5x7Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice has scheduled his second fundraiser this month. The reception will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Bella Brava restaurant, 204 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

Justice, a Democrat, is seeking his second term on the Pinellas County Commission. He’s facing a challenge from first-time candidate Republican Mike Mikurak, a retired business owner.

If you look at the latest financial reports from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office, it would seem Mikurak is winning the fundraising race.

Mikurak reports a total of $122,482 raised to Justice’s total of $70,882.

But a closer look could tell a different story. Certainly, so far, Mikurak has more to spend on his campaign than Justice has. But, about a third of Mikurak’s bankroll — 32 percent, or about $39,000.45 in cash loans and in-kind contributions — comes out of the candidate’s own pocket. That leaves him with about $83,482 in donations.

Justice, on the other hand, has put about $573 of his own money in cash or in-kind, into the campaign. That’s about 0.08 percent of his total.

And the two might have been even closer had Justice and Mikurak begun fundraising at the same time. Mikurak began fundraising in September 2015. Justice opened his campaign account a month later.

Justice has served on the Pinellas Commission since 2012 and is its current chair. Before that, he served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006. He then served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010.

The District 3 seat is one of the at-large seats on the seven-member commission so it’s voted on countywide. The election is Nov. 8.

charlie-justice-fundraiser-flyer

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Mike Mikurak schedules two fundraisers

Mike Mikurak has scheduled two fundraisers this month to help finance his run for the Pinellas County Commission. The first event is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at the home of

The first event is planned for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at the home of Joe and JoAnn White in Largo. The host committee reads like a Who’s Who of local Republicans. The committee includes Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, state Sens. Jack Latvala and Jeff Brandes, and state Reps. Kathleen Peters, Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls and Larry Ahern. Also on the list are Clerk of Court Ken Burke, outgoing tax collector Diane Nelson, outgoing property appraiser Pam Dubov, State Attorney Bernie McCabe and Public Defender Bob Dillinger.

Other Republican notables include Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno, South PasadenAngusa Mayor Max Elson, Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis, former St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, council members Ed Montanari from St. Petersburg, Doreen Caudell from Clearwater and Eric Seidel from Oldsmar. Former Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield and former state Reps. Ed Hooper and Frank Farkas are also on the host committee.

The second event, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 14, is billed as a “Beach Party” at the Island Grille & Raw Bar, 210 Madonna Blvd., Tierra Verde. The event will have “heavy hors d’oeuvres” and a cash bar.

Mikurak, a New Jersey native, is a retired businessman who was a founding partner of Accenture, a global firm providing consulting in strategy and technology. He is making his first run for public office against incumbent Democrat Charlie Justice for the District 3 at-large seat. The seat is voted on countywide. The election is Nov. 8.

Mikurak Fundraiser

Mikurak Fundraiser

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Charlie Justice sets fundraiser Tuesday as general election campaign begins in earnest

A fundraiser to help fund Charlie Justice’s re-election campaign to the Pinellas County Commission District 3 seat is set for Tuesday.

The fundraiser, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., will be at the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. The event is hosted by Zev Buffman and two of Justice’s fellow Democratic commissioners, Janet Long and Ken Welch. The event includes appetizers with a cash bar.

Justice is facing a challenge in the Nov. 8 general election from Republican Mike Mikurak. Mikurak, a retired businessman, is making his first run for public office.

Thus far, Mikurak is winning when it comes to fundraising. He’s raised $120,407 to Justice’s $70,062. But Mikurak has been raising money since last September, about a month later. And Mikurak’s first month of fundraising was his best so far – $33,800, although about $10,291 of that came out of his own pocket. In Justice’s first month of fundraising, he brought in $100 that he he gave himself to open his campaign account.

Justice has been playing catchup ever since.

Justice has served on the Pinellas Commission since 2012 and is its current chair. Before that, he served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006. He then served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010.

Justice also serves on the Tampa Bay Estuary program policy board, the Health and Human Services Leadership Board, the Area Agency on Aging of Pinellas-Pasco board, and the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority board. He is chair of the Pinellas County Historic Preservation board and an advisor to the Pinellas County Youth Advisory committee.

Justice lives in St. Petersburg.

The District 3 seat is one of the at-large positions on the seven-member commission. All Pinellas voters will be able to cast ballots.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Kenneth City welcome sign is unwelcome sight for some

People who live at the edge of cities often face special difficulties.

Just ask Jennifer Garwood.

She lives in St. Petersburg on the edge of Kenneth City near the border with unincorporated Lealman. Like many in that situation, she and her neighbors often have trouble getting city services because officials can be unclear about who’s in what jurisdiction.

Take the garbage service. Even with St. Pete waste containers “we get passed over time and time,” Garwood said.

And now, it’s about to get worse.

That’s because Kenneth City has erected a brand new “Welcome to Kenneth City” sign at 62nd Street and 42nd Avenue North. Trouble is, the sign is not in Kenneth City. It’s actually in the unincorporated Lealman area. That makes garbage truck drivers, and others, think they’re in Kenneth City when they’re not, Garwood said.

“It’s ridiculous,” Garwood said of the service issues. “Then they put the sign there. … My initial inclination was they just put it on the wrong side of the bridge.”

Adding to the service and safety issues is the matter of aesthetics.

“I think the sign is ugly,” Garwood said. “It’s this concrete sign …. It’s an ugly sign right there.”

She wrote an email to Kenneth City Council members, Town Manager Matt Campbell, and Pinellas County Commissioners Ken Welch, Janet Long, and Charlie Justice. It was titled “ACTION REQUIRED — Assistance with Sign Removal.”

In it, Garwood pointed out the safety and service problems with the sign placement:

“The new sign makes it difficult to see oncoming foot and car traffic when traveling on 42nd Avenue. (Students from nearby Dixie Hollins High School utilize this path walking home and there is a bus stop directly adjacent from the new sign.)

“The new sign is in direct opposition to the Welcome to St. Petersburg sign.

“Residents on 42nd Avenue North contact the city of St. Petersburg Sanitation Department many times during the year (can be verified by the department), due to garbage collection truck drivers skipping pickups on 42nd Avenue North because they do not believe our street is within St. Petersburg city limits (although we have city collection containers).  The new sign’s placement will not help with this issue, only increase current confusion.

“I have already worked with the U.S. Postal Service to correct their system error, which previously only allowed Kenneth City to appear as a city selection for the Florida zip code 33709. It now allows city selection of St. Petersburg, Florida, as well. The new sign’s placement will only increase confusion by postal employees delivering mail.”

She included photographs to illustrate her points.

Matt Campbell
Matt Campbell

Campbell, the town manager, said the sign is one of six Kenneth City has planted near town entranceways over the past few weeks. Before the signs were erected, he said, the town got a permit from the county for all six. Part of that process, he said, was making sure the signs were not in sight triangles and were on available right of way, which is limited in certain areas.

Campbell agreed the sign is not at the Kenneth City border, but said it doesn’t have to be because it’s “a welcome sign, not a city limits sign.”

On the other hand, Campbell said, the St. Petersburg sign across the street is a city limits sign, so its placement has to be on the line.

Campbell conceded the town could move the sign. But, he said, given the limited right of way and other issues in the area, the sign would have to go north of the bridge over Joe’s Creek. But doing that, he said, would mean drivers are inside Kenneth City before they’re welcomed. Kenneth City residents who would be living south of the sign might be unhappy, he said.

Campbell said, however, that Garwood has some valid concerns.

“If there’s a significant hubbub over it, we could move it,” Campbell said.

TKenneth City Welcome Sign

Welcome to Kenneth City Sign

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Back to the drawing board for Toytown property

Pinellas officials have tried for years to figure out what to do with Toytown, a 240-acre closed landfill in the Gateway area.

They tried selling it but had no takers. So last year, in an effort to spark some interest, they asked for proposals and got three – a mixed use development, a solar farm, and a sports complex.

The $662-million sports complex, which would have been anchored by a spring training center for the Atlanta Braves, caught officials’ eyes. But county officials weren’t sure they could commit the necessary money to the project until a decision had been made on the future location for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Charlie_Justice_5x7Before any decision could be made, Pinellas Commissioner Charlie Justice said, the Braves pulled out. Then the developer, SportsPark Partners, LLC, pulled out. Now the county’s pulling out.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday to reject not only the SportsPark proposal, but also the other two.

“It just wasn’t going anywhere,” Justice said.

Justice said it’s unclear what will happen from here. It’ll likely stay on the county’s “for sale” list. Other than that, it’s wide open. Commissioners haven’t discussed the future of the acreage with the county’s economic development experts.

Part of the difficulty in developing the property, Justice said, is the acreage’s past as a landfill. It’s unknown what’s underneath the center of the property and what kind of development it would support.

But, if it proves buildable, the property is in a prime location near I-275, and the Gandy and Howard Frankland bridges. It’s an area that has often been mentioned as a possible site for the Rays.

Now that it’s available, does this mean it could be the next home for the Tampa Bay Rays?

“Theoretically, yes,” Justice said.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Pinellas Commission appears ready to get aboard the ferry

Pinellas County commissioners appear poised to get on board a high-speed commuter ferry between St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the item during Tuesday’s meeting. If the commission agrees, Pinellas would become the fourth government to collaborate to fund the six-month pilot program. The Hillsborough commission and the Tampa and St. Petersburg councils have already signed on.

Charlie justice 07.11 (3)“If I’m reading the tea leaves, it’ll pass 6 to 1,” said Charlie Justice, chairman of the Pinellas Commission. The possible holdout, he said, would be Dave Eggers, who has expressed reservations about the project.

If the Pinellas Commission signs on, it, like the other governments, would put up one-quarter of the $1.4 million cost, or $350,000. In Pinellas’ case, the money would likely come from BP settlement monies. Commissioners had said they wanted to use the $7.1 million in settlement funds for one-time, one of a kind, statement projects and other innovative ideas.

“I think it’s what this kind of money is for,” Justice said.

The main purpose of the pilot ferry service is to measure whether a ferry service can be sustained in the future for the Tampa Bay region. The pilot will measure demand for commuter and non-commuter service, pricing feasibility, revenue generation, consumer preferences, marketing effectiveness and impact on vehicle use.

Assuming Pinellas does join the others, the ferry service would likely begin sometime this fall. Under the proposed agreement, HMS Ferries would provide a minimum of two trips between St. Petersburg and Tampa Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays. There would be a minimum of three trips on Fridays. Officials believe that schedule will test both the commuter market and the tourist market. The ride would cost $10 for a one-way ticket.

The first $125,000 generated from the service would go to HMS, and any income above that would be split among the four governments.

Janet LongPinellas Commissioner Janet Long said she’s going to vote for the pilot.

“To me, it’s a no brainer,” Long said. “I think it’s worth a shot to see.”

Ferries are a common mode of transportation all around the world, she said. Long said she spent some time in Savannah, GA. There was a ferry just outside her hotel, she said, that took her to the other side of the river for free.

“It was just part of their transportation system,” she said.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Police union endorses Charlie Justice’s re-election

Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice has won the endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association in his bid for re-election.

The PBA endorsement was based on Justice’s commitment to our community and understanding of the important issues before Pinellas County.

“I’m grateful for the support of our local law enforcement. They are on the front lines in our community offering themselves in service for our protection,” Justice said. “I look forward to working with the officers, support personnel and their association in making our community safer today than it was yesterday. It’s important work.”

Justice, a Democrat, is seeking his second term for the District 3 seat on the commission. The seat is one of three countywide seats on the seven-member commission.

Justice is facing Republican Mike Mikurak in the Nov. 8 election.

Justice is a native of Pinellas County who lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two daughters. He was first elected to the Pinellas County Commission in 2012. He currently serves as chair of the commission.

Justice also serves on the health and human services leadership board, the area agency on aging of Pinellas-Pasco and the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority. Before serving on the county commission, Justice served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010 and in the Florida House from 2000 to 2006. While in the Senate, he served as the minority leader pro-tem. While in the House, he served as the Democratic caucus whip.

Justice has also been endorsed by the Pinellas Realtors Organization, the AFL-CIO, the Equality Florida PAC and the Sierra Club.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons