Community activist April Thanos has officially qualified to run for Gulfport City Council Ward 1. Thanos, who was expected to throw her name into the hat, is challenging two-term incumbent, Dan Liedtke.
“We need a representative who shares Gulfport’s values. We need someone who will work cooperatively to bring Gulfport together,” Thanos said. “I have over 25 years of business experience and I’ve managed multi-million dollar budgets. I know how to find savings and improve efficiency while giving everyone a seat at the table.”
Thanos spent the majority of her career working for the largest shipping company in the world. Thanos is a regular at City Council meetings and a regular volunteer in the community. She moved to Gulfport from Seattle Washington where she served as a program and events manager for the local Chamber of Commerce.
Thanos also worked for the Greater Seattle Business Association, the largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce in the United States. In that roll she helped market the LGBT and small business community, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and ran a scholarship fund for LGBT youth.
Thanos is a Democrat. She’s expected to get strong party backing for her bid against Liedtke, a registered Republican.
Gulfport is a Democratic-saturated community. Its Mayor, Sam Henderson, ran successfully in 2013 as the “environmental candidate.”
The environment is likely to be a key point in the 2016 municipal election as Gulfport residents are still reeling from the massive raw sewage dump into Clam Bayou this August that led to several beach closures in Gulfport.
Liedtke has been a vocal opponent to the Rick Kriseman administration as a result of the dump and may be able to hold onto some support based on that.
However, Liedtke was also vocally opposed to the 2014 Greenlight Pinellas initiative that would have funded sweeping transit improvements. Many Gulfport residents were in favor of that referendum.
“I see so much opportunity for Gulfport, that’s why I’m running. When we make smart investments in our community and local businesses, we’ll create good paying jobs while protecting our environment,” Thanos said. “I’m excited to meet with voters and move our city forward.”
This race is likely to be the only competitive one on Gulfport’s ballot. Mayor Sam Henderson and Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman aren’t likely to draw formidable opposition.
Gulfport municipal elections coincide with the Presidential Preference Primary in March. Though partisanship is likely to be part of the underlying conversation in this race, Gulfport elections are non-partisan.