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Government critic Barb Haselden now seeking seat on Pinellas Commission

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Barbara Haselden, a St. Petersburg insurance executive and prominent opponent of the 2014 Greenlight Pinellas transit tax referendum, is running for the Pinellas County Commission.

Haselden has her eyes on the District 6 seat being vacated by a retiring John Morroni.

Haselden was the leader of No Tax for Tracks, the citizen-driven group formed to oppose Greenlight Pinellas, the referendum which asked for a penny increase in the sales tax to pay for expanded bus service and a 24-mile light rail system linking St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

That measure was defeated, with 62 percent of voters opposed.

Haselden’s first task will be winning the Republican primary in District 6, where Seminole-based state Representative Larry Ahern has already announced his candidacy (as has state representative Kathleen Peters as well).

Haselden is not the first prominent Pinellas Tea Party activist to make a run for the District 6 seat. Activist and blogger Tom Rask ran and lost to Morroni in 2014.

Haselden was not available for comment, but she did tell Rask’s blog — The Tampa Bay Guardian — that one of the issues that she’ll be running on if elected, would be to place a referendum on the ballot for an eight-year term limit on Pinellas County Commissioners, counting time served.

“So the citizens of Pinellas County can once again get to vote on how long commissioners may be on the board,” Haselden said.

Activists like Haselden and Rask have been arguing for years that term limits should be implemented in Pinellas County. In 1996, 72 percent of voters approved 8-year term limits, but the commission never put those term limits into the county charter after a Pinellas judge threw out a lawsuit seeking to enforce the referendum.

Three of the eight commissioners currently on the board have served well beyond the term limits enacted in local jurisdictions such as St. Petersburg, Tampa and Hillsborough County. Ken Welch was elected in 2000, Karen Seel was appointed in 1999 and then elected in 2000, and Morroni has been in office since 2000.

The district covers the middle part of Pinellas County, from Seminole to Pinellas Park, including Feather Sound, northeast St. Petersburg and some southern beach communities.

 

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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